What Does An Osteopath Do

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What’s the difference between and osteopath and a chiropractor?

This is probably THE most common question I get asked as an osteopath working in North Finchley, London. Almost every patient coming in to the clinic asks this at some point during their treatments.

There is no clear cut answer to this question as there is a huge overlap between therapies, so this can only be answered in general terms.

The first main difference is with the philosophy of treatment. Chiropractors believe that problems around the body are a result of a subluxation in the spine. Therefore by adjusting the spine you can alter the signals travelling along the nerves. Osteopaths have a more global approach and don’t necessarily believe that the cause is always due to a dysfunction of the spine.

The second difference between osteopaths and chiropractors is in the assessment of patients. Chriopractors tend to be very technology dependent, with x-rays being the most commonly used equipment, but they also use things such as a Spinal Mouse or Posture Pro. After screening you with the equipment, you will be booked in for a second appointment where you will be explained the findings and the treatment plan. On your third appointment you will be given a treatment. Osteopaths rarely use such equipment, relying more on their case history, palpatory findings and orthopaedic testing to formulate a treatment plan. You will usually be treated within your first appointment when you go to see an osteopath.

The last main difference between osteopaths and chiropractors is the treatment itself. Chiropractic treatments are often very short, usually about 15 minutes and consist almost purely of adjustment techniques (clicking the joints). Osteopathic treatments last around 30 minutes and involve more massage work, stretching, joint mobilisations and of course the joint adjusments. Osteopaths believe that if you massage the soft tissues first then when it comes to adjustments the body finds it less aggressive.

Ultimately however, you need to find a practitioner who you get on with and who treats you in a way that suits your body. If you don’t feel comfortable with the practitioner or the way the treatment feels then you won’t respond as quickly.