When it comes to persistent back pain there are many options available to you but which should you choose? In the short term, pain relief is essential in order for you to continue in your day to day life, but do you want to mask the problem in the long term? The smart answer is ‘no’. It will only open you up to further injury and turn what might have been a painful niggle into a long term concern. So where do you turn?
People are moving away from what used to be most people’s first port of call, ‘The Gp’ and more commonly, recommendations that are now offered up are to go and see an Osteopath or a Chiropractor, but what is the difference?
Both disciplines are committed to ensuring that your pain is alleviated and that a strong, healthy spine is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall health and well being. There are many similarities between the two yet both are very different and it is important that you know how each can help you.
Chiropractic care was first founded way back in 1895. The core focus of chiropractic care is to look at your biomechanics – essentially the science of movement of a living body.The belief is that the structure of your spine, and how well it is maintained has a positive impact on your musculoskeletal and neurological systems.
In order to treat pain, and also some other ailments, a Chiropractor will manipulate the spine by making “adjustments” to help realign the spine. Chiropractors believe that when the spine is properly aligned, it gives your body the best opportunity to be able to heal itself. Chiropractic care is solely observational and tactile, they cannot and will not prescribe any type of traditional medications.
Osteopathy was founded even earlier than Chiropractic practice back in the 1870s. The key focus is on the relationship between your musculoskeletal system and its impact on your overall health – as described by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine – “Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical care founded on the philosophy that all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for good health.”
As mentioned both a chiropractor and osteopath will have the same focus and philosophy about spinal health and its influence on your health. They also share a fairly similar history which sets them apart from the more traditional allopathic fields of medicine.
The primary focus is to reduce pain and they both believe that tending to and paying close attention to the spine can alleviate pain, improve circulation and as such stimulate the nervous system to perform at its best. In order to achieve this, they both utilise joints, muscle and tissue manipulation after careful tactile assessment.
Whereas Chiropractors mainly focus on ensuring your spine is properly aligned, Osteopaths, however, look at treating a broader range of disorders, focusing on the whole body and its structures work in tandem.
Osteopaths utilise a much wider array of techniques to stimulate the body’s systems of healing. We do more muscle and soft tissue manipulation around joints in the body whereas Chiropractors’ main focus is on adjustments to the vertebrae of the spine.
In terms of appointment length, chiropractic appointments are usually shorter and more concise. They focus on making the relevant ‘adjustments’, turning the patients around relatively quickly.
Osteopaths, on the other hand, tend to spend more time assessing and getting to the root of the issue with their patients, this is largely down to the broader reach of osteopathy.
As a result, it is likely that you would have to see a chiropractor more regularly than an osteopath.
Ultimately there is plenty of room for both disciplines when it comes to treating back pain and for a lot of people, it is a personal choice, which also comes down to what practitioner you see and whether you like them as a person also. I see every patient as a privilege that this person has trusted me to help make them better, I will do everything within my remit to obtain good health of the patient, and if I am unable to assist fully, I will refer to someone who can. I work alongside many other fantastic practitioners and as a team, our aim is to get the patient fit and well in the shortest time possible.
I hope this helps clear up the differences between both approaches and if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!
Until next time,