What's the Difference?
Chiropractor? Osteopath? Physiotherapist? Acupuncture?
What’s the difference? It is so confusing! So let’s attempt to simplify it - as much as possible.
Remember, this is my opinion based on my observations and should not be misconstrued as personalized health or medical advice.
So let’s go!!!
Chiropractic - A profession that uses adjustment/manipulation of the spine to influence nerve signalling.
Osteopath - A profession that uses adjustment/manipulation of the joints of the body to influence blood flow.
Physiotherapy - A profession that uses massage, manipulation, and exercise to influence recovery.
Acupuncture - The practice (not a profession) of stimulating the meridians of the body with needle insertion to influence the flow of chi or life force.
That all seems relatively simple.
In a word — diversity, growth — okay, that’s two words (sorry).
It’s a mixed bag. It seems like you can’t spot the differences in the lot. I know chiropractors who practice like a physiotherapist. I know physiotherapists who practice like a massage therapist. I know Osteopaths who practice like a chiropractor. — We can juggle these words around as much as you like but it will not change the fact that it is a mixed bag.
So what do we really have?
We have three different professions — chiropractic, osteopathy, and physiotherapy — who have the knowledge and skill-set to utilize many of the same “tools of the trade(s).” While regulations from country to country differ on what each profession is legally allowed to do, here is my crude overview. Please note that this is based on what you would see in private practice and not in a hospital or specialty clinic setting. It also is not relevant to the practice of Osteopathy in the United States.*
Also note that each practitioner does not use every tool they are allowed. Some practitioners have specialties--pediatric, concussion, orthopeaedic, pain management, etc.--and some practitioners have a broad focus akin to a family practice.
What about acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a tool and not a profession.
What’s the take away here?
Don’t expect all chiropractors to be the same. Don’t expect all osteopaths to be the same. Don’t expect all physiotherapists to be the same.
Choose your practitioner based on your goals and what you are looking for. Ask your friends, family and colleagues. Ask another practitioner you are seeing, like your massage therapist, your counsellor, or your family doctor — if they are open minded enough ;-).
*Osteopathy in the United States was defeated and absorbed by the medical profession. As a result the osteopathss in the United states are trained the same as medical doctors with the addition of some manual therapies. Again, just my observation and opinion.
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