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What Is The Difference Between Osteopathy And Chiropractic?

It may be challenging to choose between osteopathy and chiropractic care if you are trying to figure out whether you could benefit from one treatment or the other. Chiropractic care and osteopathy may be similar in several ways but they are not identical in all aspects.

Although there are a few historical differences between these two types of treatment, many people are concerned about how they differ in recent times and how appropriate each of them can be in treating certain health conditions and joint problems. This article discusses the differences between osteopathy and chiropractic care to help you choose the best treatment option for your symptoms.

What is Chiropractic Treatment?

Doctor doing neck adjustment in medical office
Chiropractic treatment uses non-invasive techniques and focuses on the existing connection between the muscles, nerves, and skeleton. It is based on the philosophy that back pain is caused by joint misalignment along the spine that compromises the effectiveness of the central nervous system in the body.  Most people seek the help of chiropractors primarily for lower back problems. However, the treatment involves spinal manipulation where your physician makes small ‘adjustments’ to alleviate pain and relieve pressure around the lumbar vertebrae. The familiar popping or cracking noise that you hear during these adjustments originates from small pockets of gas in the joint fluid.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy also uses non-invasive treatment techniques but is centered on the principle that all bones, ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues must work together harmoniously to achieve general wellbeing. Osteopathy holds the belief that manipulating a specific area of the musculoskeletal system promotes self-healing since every part of the body is unified. Cranial osteopathy is primarily used in children to identify the pulse surrounding the brain by lightly manipulating the skull. Visceral osteopathy focuses on the central cavities and body organs to improve general movement and increase pliability by manipulating the viscera and connective tissues. Osteopathy uses palpation to identify the body’s structure and rhythm to determine weak spots to provide tailored treatment to an individual.

Primary Differences between Osteopathy and Chiropractic Treatment

  • Method of Treatment

Chiropractors focus primarily on the spine starting from the neck to the lower back. Osteopaths on the other hand focus on the broader skeletal system, examining how the joints and muscles interact together and thus provide treatment for areas that are not directly connected to the spine. Chiropractors can perform an MRI scan or an X-ray to determine areas of the spine that need to be addressed. On the contrary, osteopaths determine the problem areas using palpation or a physical examination. Unlike chiropractors, osteopaths establish where the focus of treatment should be using touch and feel without necessarily focusing on the spine.

  • Technique Used

Osteopaths diagnose their clients using various techniques such as palpation, touch, and observation. Once they have identified the problem areas, they use massage to release and ease muscles, and articulation to move your joints through their natural range of motion. Chiropractic treatment on the other hand uses hand-held devices and various types of body scan to identify problem areas. Some of the techniques used by chiropractors include high-velocity thrusts to the spine, stretching muscles in different directions, and loosening stiff joints to increase range of motion. However, both treatment methods may use gentle or forceful techniques based on the needs of each patient.

  • Health Condition and Symptoms

Chiropractors focus on specific treatments and manipulative techniques based on the alignment of the spine. They treat joint and muscle pains, pinched nerves, lower back pains, and other issues within the nervous system. Chiropractic treatment holds the belief that adjusting the vertebrae of the spine helps to relieve pain and other symptoms affecting the central nervous system. Osteopathy aims to treat the body as a whole and thus solves a broader range of problems compared to chiropractic treatment.

  • Duration of Treatment

Chiropractic treatment is relatively short since it involves a specific adjustment based on the current symptoms of a patient. After all, adjustments are done and all the cracking and popping noises have been heard, the treatment is over until the next time. Osteopathy sessions may take longer than chiropractic treatment and can spread out over a longer period. The difference in duration of treatment occurs as a result of the diagnostic procedures and method of treatment used in both practices.

Now that you have understood the differences between osteopathy and chiropractic care, you can make an informed decision on which treatment option is best for your situation. You can choose to consult both a chiropractor and an osteopath to determine who provides a more viable solution to your current problem. Since both of these practices offer complementary treatment, it is important to consult your regular doctor before seeking advice elsewhere.