What’s the difference between Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy?
This is one of the most common questions that we get asked. It can be confusing to try to find out which therapy is right for you. All three disciplines treat similar types of conditions, largely musculoskeletal injuries and complaints. Here’s a simple overview:
Combine elements of both the other disciplines. We tend to take a more ‘holistic’ approach, stepping back to look at the ‘big picture’. We don’t just deal with injuries but also ongoing postural and mechanical problems people have.
We consider both local tissue damage and whole body mechanics at the same time. Factors such as age, occupation, exercise and lifestyle are incorporated to ensure the ‘best-fit’ to restoring health. Treatments are typically 30 mins and involve soft-tissue massage and articulation, as well as joint manipulation.
Cranial osteopathy is a speciality within osteopathy that focuses on a very gentle approach to restoring correct alignment and balance within tissues. It is particularly suitable for babies and children.
Traditionally work with injuries and rehabilitation, mainly dealing with muscles and ligaments. Treatments combine ‘hands-on’ muscle manipulation work with the use of technical equipment (such as ultrasound), plus exercise prescription.
Mostly focus on spinal mechanics and aim to push patients towards what they consider an ‘ideal spinal posture’. This may include taking x-rays and using machines. Treatments are usually short (typically 15 mins) and generally focus on spinal manipulation only (the cracking/clicking of joints).
What’s happening when my joints are manipulated?
Patients are sometimes concerned about the clicking sounds made by joints during the type of treatment known as joint manipulation. There is little need to worry as research has shown it to be a safe technique to improve joint range of movement and relieve pain.
The clicking noise is down to the ‘popping’ of small bubbles of nitrogen gas that form during the rapid joint opening movement carefully applied by the practitioner. This movement produces a vacuum in the joint space, which is immediately filled by nitrogen gas that comes out of solution from the synovial fluid. The ‘pop’ occurs when the gas bubble implodes sending the nitrogen back into solution.
How many treatments will I need?
A number of important factors need to be established by your osteopath during your initial visit. We have to consider things like:
- the type of injury
- state of general health
- presence of underlying health conditions
- occupation… to name but a few
Your practitioner will reassess your condition as it improves with each treatment, and amend their care accordingly. We will clearly explain what’s going on and give you advice on how to help the healing process in between sessions. This means that at every stage of your care you will be receiving a tailor-made treatment programme specific to you.
Are you covered by my health insurance?
We are covered by all the UK health insurance companies, including BUPA, AXA PPP and many others. We would ask that you contact your health insurer prior to booking in with us as their individual conditions and requirements vary widely.
Is there any benefit in coming for regular, maintenance treatments?
Osteopaths deal with a lot of wear and tear that our bodies go through in our lives, and we actually find many of our patients choose to visit us regularly, one even described it as their ‘MOT for the body’!
Prevention is a big part of Osteopathy and this kind of regular maintenance helps to avoid potential issues caused by the bad habits we get into from poor posture and body mechanics.
Your osteopath may suggest such an approach if they think it will benefit you, based on:
general health and exercise levels, and so on
Or if you are interested, we can certainly advise on whether you would benefit from such an approach. Feel free to ask for more details.
What training has an osteopath had?
All our osteopaths have undertaken training to a high level and are fully registered with the General Osteopathic Council. Comprehensive training lasts at least 4 years.
Current programmes at the British School of Osteopathy, Europe’s largest and oldest school, (where Stuart graduated first in his class), consist of:
in-depth study of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
over 1000 hours spent in clinic treating patients under supervision.
Furthermore, Osteopaths also have to undergo a minimum of 30 hours per year of ongoing professional development to maintain their registration.