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What’s The Difference Between A Physiotherapist, Chiropractor And An Osteopath?

By January 22, 2015June 6th, 2019Physiotherapy, Spinal Physiotherapy

As Physiotherapists, we are often asked why people should come and see us over a different health professional such as a Chiropractor or an Osteopath, and what type of injuries does each of us treat. To answer this, below is a summary of the theories which drive each profession.

Physiotherapists treat a variety of different injuries and different areas of pain to help their patients return to their best in terms of physical function. Physiotherapists are trained to utilise the principles of evidence-based practice and therefore use the bestresearch evidence, along withclinical experienceandpatient values,on which to base their treatment decisions and give their patients the best possible outcome.

In the private practice setting, your first appointment will involve your Physiotherapist asking you some detailed questions about the problem, conducting a thorough assessment, providing treatment, and giving you a diagnosis and prognosis regarding the expected length of recovery time. The assessment will involve looking at how you move and conducting tests specific to your injury. The treatment may include manual (hands-on) therapy, exercise therapy, ergonomic assessments & advice, Pilates or some other intervention (taping, acupuncture, etc). You will be given advice regarding how to manage your injury and possibly some exercises to do at home. Follow up appointments will focus on reassessment to ensure your problem is getting better,  progressing your exercises, performing further manual therapy to improve function, and planning for gradual return to sport or your normal activities. Ultimately, a Physiotherapists goal is to restore your body’s muscles, joints, nerves, and other tissues to normal so that you feel better and can get on with life!

A Physiotherapist can help to:

  • decrease pain in an area
  • restore normal joint range of movement
  • improve function
  • facilitate return to sport
  • implement post-operative rehabilitation programmes
  • complete Biomechanical Assessments
  • prescribe exercises
  • advice about your posture
  • complete Ergonomic Assessments

A Chiropractor diagnoses and treats disorders of a mechanical nature. Chiropractors believe that subluxations can cause the medical conditions that we experience. In the chiropractic community, subluxation refers to more of a status of body structure. In the medical community, however, a subluxation means a partial dislocation of a joint.

Ultimately, chiropractic theory suggests that by keeping joints moving correctly and stimulating the nervous system through adjustments of the skeletal system, the nervous system will function optimally, and this will allow your entire body to function normally. The belief is that when those who practise chiropractic realign the body, the nerve relays can be corrected. Chiropractic theory is that good health is related to proper spinal column position and condition. Treatment consists of a range of manipulative techniques mostly on the spine.

There are some reasons why chiropractic treatments may be contraindicated. Manipulations are not recommended for patients with certain conditions, like arthritic conditions, fractures, dislocations or disc bulges.

Osteopathy comes from the Greek word osteon (bone) and pathos (disease) and is a manipulative therapy. In theory, osteopathy is more proactive than reactive, which means it promotes health and wellness instead of treating the symptoms of a disease.

In common with other holistic therapies, osteopathic theory recognises the body’s self-healing powers. Osteopathy centres upon structural defects in muscles, nerves and bones. Osteopaths feel that much of the pain, disability and illness we suffer stems from abnormalities in our body’s structure and function.

Ultimately, the decision of who you decide to seek treatment from depends on which profession’s treatment philosophy sits most comfortably with you.  At Bend + Mend, we believe our experienced Physiotherapists can assist you in a timely, professional, and friendly way.  We are confident that we can help you reach your best by getting rid of that terrible pain, that annoying stiffness, or that troubling weakness, so that you can get back to the sports field, back to picking up the kids, back to that bushwalk or just back to work!


Bend + Mend

Bend + Mend has been providing Sydney’s CBD with Physiotherapy and Pilates services since 2003. We have 4 great locations in Martin Place, Barangaroo, Darling Park and Circular Quay, all with private rooms and specialised one-on-one care. We also have Sydney CBD’s best-loved Physios who have helped over 10,000 people recover from pain and injury.

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