Monday, June 16, 2008

Chiropractors versus Osteopaths

My reason for researching this topic is threefold:

  • My left hip is feeling weird in the last few days and sending a sharp pain down my left leg (I was told by a Yoga teacher a few years ago and a Shiatsu therapist while I was pregnant that my left hip is not terribly happy - I was not aware of it until now)
  • Steven has an ongoing achey knee
  • As a result of childbirth, babies often get a twisted diaphragm which jams the esophagus sphincter in an open or semi open position. Babies often has a pelvic twist also causing tension over one of the lower muscle groups that lead to tension in the digestive region. These cause colic and reflux. Erin seems to have missed the colic bit, but definitely has a reflux problem.... friends have had amazing results from both chiros and osteos in just one or two treatments.

Hopefully this will be helpful to any of you ever in a similar dilemma...I'll let you know how it goes at the Osteopath!

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy improves the health of the body by removing obstructions to the blood and nerve supply to body tissues. This is achieved by:

  • relaxing and lengthening muscles, thereby resetting the proper balance between them
  • increasing the mobility of joints
  • reducing blood and lymph congestion in tight tissues
  • reducing inflammation in injured tissues

Osteopaths use a variety of manual techniques, which include:

  • stretching of muscles and connective tissue
  • rhythmic movement of joints
  • releasing restricted joints, so that they can move more freely
    Osteopaths take a caring approach to treatment, with special attention to the needs of the individual.

Gentle techniques are adopted for older patients, pregnant women and children. This ensures the safety of the patient and brings about general relaxation of the patient, as well as of the muscles. Osteopaths are trained to a standard which ensures that the safety of the patient is paramount.

What is Chiropractic?

The nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and millions of nerves, is the most important system in the body. It is responsible for growth, repair and proper functioning of every tissue and organ. Information passes from the brain, down the spinal cord and along nerves that pass between the spinal bones (vertebra) and then travel to various parts of the body. The entire functioning of the body is controlled by the brain through the nervous system.

The spine is made up of 24 bones (vertebra) that sit on top of each other, forming a protection for the spinal cord and attachment for the rest of the spine and skeleton. Each one of the vertebra move with the one above and below via special joints, providing movements and flexibility within the spine. Due to various stresses, the vertebra can become stuck. This is know as a subluxation and can lead to stress on the surrounding spinal muscles, ligaments, discs, joint and other spinal tissues. Pain, tenderness, inflammation, decreased movement, and muscle spasm can occur. The spinal nerve that exits the spine at the level of the stuck vertebra can become pinched and can interfere with the brains ability to transfer information directly to the surrounding muscles and to other parts of the body. This break down in communication can jeopardize ones overall health and wellness.



  • The underlying philosophy is that the body has a natural tendency to heal itself but that this ability can be disrupted by any abnormalities in the skeleton or the soft tissue (such as muscles and ligaments) or in the relationship between them.
  • importance of the integrity of the spine in ensuring good health
  • The primary treatment objective of both osteopathy and chiropractic is to remove bodily aches and pain.
  • Osteopaths often seek also to treat functional disorders such as disorders of the respiratory or digestive systems.
  • In many countries, osteopaths are trained and recognised as primary care physicians and they see and treat patients just as ordinary doctors do.
  • Osteopaths and chiropractors are both able to perform diagnosis by visual inspection and palpation (feeling by hand).
  • Osteopaths do not to order x-rays unless they are clinically indicated. This minimises a person's exposure to radiation.
  • osteopaths employ a wider range of techniques overall...Apart from manipulation, osteopaths use other techniques such as stretching, pressure and mobilisation
  • Osteopaths are also trained in cranial osteopathy or craniosacral therapy, which involve very subtle and gentle adjustments without any “clicking” of the joints.
  • it is generally the case that osteopaths spend longer time with each patient. In addition, osteopathic patients generally require less frequent treatments, and their treatments are spaced out over a longer period of time, rather than once or twice weekly.Depending on a person's condition, some complaints may require just one or two treatments. It is only in very serious cases, such as scoliosis or abnormal curvature of the spine, that the patient is advised to undergo regular treatment over a prolonged period.


  • Another difference is that osteopaths do not “click back” a joint the way chiropractors do.
  • ? Will adjust all joints in problem area



  • importance of the integrity of the spine in ensuring good health.
  • The primary treatment objective of both osteopathy and chiropractic is to remove bodily aches and pain.
  • Some chiropractors, called "therapeutic chiropractors” might treat functional disorders as well while others, called “straight chiropractors” concern themselves solely with aches and pain.
  • Chiropractors employ a wider range of techniques for manipulating the spine
  • Will adjust only problem joint
  • Osteopaths and chiropractors are both able to perform diagnosis by visual inspection and palpation (feeling by hand).


  • However, chiropractors usually also rely on x-rays for diagnosis.
  • Some chiropractors are known to require or encourage their patients to sign on for a course of 12 or 24 or more treatments, even for minor complaints like lower back ache.


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