What’s the difference between physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatments, and who do you need to see?

People visit physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors for a range of reasons, from getting help to recover from injury, treatment for longer lasting physical complaints, maintaining good physical health and for exercise advice and injury prevention.

Suffering from any back, neck or joint pain or injury is no fun, and nobody wants to be in discomfort when there’s something they can do about it. But it can be difficult navigating the minefield of trying to find the right therapist, so how do you know what treatment is suitable for what problem?

How are they similar?

Members of all three professions complete degree-level qualifications, and are classed as manual therapists, ie they provide hands-on treatment of massage and joint stretching and articulation to improve the function of your body.

They treat the same conditions, namely those conditions associated with the muscles, joints and connective tissues of the body; this encompasses a huge range of problems from back and neck pain, arthritic pain, minor sprains and strains to more severe injuries, work-related injuries or postural strains, certain types of headaches, to circulation and digestive issues.

All three professions use similar examination and diagnostic techniques, but the treatment techniques they use vary.

How do physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic differ?

Physiotherapy focuses on assessing the function of your body, including muscle strength and joint stability, and relating this to the areas of pain or symptoms that you are suffering with. By treating areas of tension with hands-on massage and joint stretching and mobilisation techniques, alongside providing exercises to build strength in poor functioning muscles, physiotherapists aim to improve how your body is functioning. Physiotherapy is great at helping you recover from injury and decrease your chance of encountering further issues.

What does osteopathy do?

Osteopaths are interested in the range of movements of your spine and joints, and what effects a restriction in one area has on the rest of the body.

For example, sitting hunched at your desk can cause the muscles and joints of your mid-back to tighten up, which then affects the ability of your pelvis to rotate when you are walking or running.

Secondary areas of tension can develop leading to pain or problems in areas away from the actual cause of the dysfunction.

Like physiotherapists, osteopaths use massage and joint stretching techniques; they also use a range of joint manipulation techniques (which may cause the joint to crack or pop), to improve the range of movement of the joint, and therefore your body as a whole.

Osteopathy is good at identifying and addressing any postural issues, as well as treating minor injuries, and similar to physiotherapy, by providing hands-on treatment, as well as stretching and exercise advice help you return to health and prevent recurrence of similar problems.

At Newcastle Sports Injury Clinic, our osteopath often works with our physiotherapists to combine skills and offer you greater choice in your treatment options.

And chiropractic?

Chiropractic comes from similar origins as osteopathy, and work with an even broader range of joint manipulation techniques; many chiropractors don’t provide any massage or stretching, and length of each appointment tends to be shorter.

This can be good if you don’t have a great deal of time for your treatments, but in more complicated cases may not give enough time to see the finer details of your problem.

The bottom line is that whatever treatment you are receiving should be helping resolve your problem. If your symptoms aren’t improving or you are only getting temporary relief, then it may be time to try a different approach.

If you’re still not sure of who you need to see, call us on 0191 233 055 or fill in the form here and our receptionists can guide you, or arrange a conversation with a physiotherapist or osteopath to find out more.

Physiotherapy is available at our Newcastle city centre clinic from Mondays to Saturdays, our Alnwick clinic on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and our Jesmond clinic on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Osteopathy is available at our Newcastle city centre clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and at our Jesmond clinic on Monday evenings and Thursday mornings.