All these three manual therapy modalities are categorised as primary healthcare practitioners, meaning you do not need a doctor’s referral to see them. Their primary aim is to help people get better. Their methods of treatment tend to overlap, which to a layperson would seem all very similar, but the philosophy behind their techniques differs.
Chiropractors are health professionals that play an important role in spinal healthcare by using a variety of non-surgical, non-invasive techniques, such as specific spinal adjustments to improve joint mobility, soft tissue therapy to release muscles, exercise prescription to strengthen and correct mechanical imbalances, and low-force manual interventions to cater for patients that need a softer approach like children or the elderly. Chiropractors university degrees train them to diagnose, manage and help prevent musculoskeletal injuries, especially spinal conditions that lead to neck and back pain.
Physiotherapists are university trained health professionals who help treat injuries, reduce pain and stiffness, increase mobility and prevent further injury. Treatments can consiste of muscle releases, joint mobilisation and exercises prescriptions. Physiotherapists can help with a range of conditions including rehabilitation after surgery, sports injury, stroke and general injuries.
Osteopaths are also university trained and complete a 4-year degree. Osteopathy focuses on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a whole. Osteopaths treat conditions using techniques such as muscle releases, stretching, joint manipulation and visceral manipulation.
For most people and most types of injuries seeing any one of a chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath would be suitable. All professions are qualified to deal with the full range of musculoskeletal conditions and have university qualifications. It is often dependent on the individual practitioners experience and treatment apporach that determines who would be most suited to help you.
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