What is the difference between an osteopath, chiropractor and physiotherapist?

These three therapies are quite similar, but there can be some overlap between the disciplines. One common goal is to reduce a patient’s pain, this is achieved by improving the patients structure and function. Each therapy has its own philosophies and treatment approaches so that these common aims are achieved.

Chiropractors are in many ways very similar to Osteopaths, their philosophy is that everything needs a good nerve supply where as osteopathy suggests that all body function is in harmony with a good blood supply! However Chiropractors do seem to manipulate the spine more whereas Osteopaths do seem to use a greater range of techniques, not only manipulation. Such techniques involving stretching, massage, articulation (mobilisation). Most Chiropractors work on 15-20 minute consultations whereas osteopaths generally work on 30-40 minute appointments, this normally results in less frequent treatments.

As a general rule Physiotherapist are less hands on compared to Osteopaths and Chiropractors. Treatment is based on using more machines such as ultrasound, laser therapy and interferential. They do allocate exercises to do at home as do Osteopaths and Chiropractors.

Osteopathy is a holistic approach treating the whole body, the underlying cause and not just the symptoms. At Scott Osteopathic & Health Clinic we treat people as we would like to be treated ourselves.

How long do Osteopathic treatments last?

The initial treatment lasts between 45 minutes – 60 minutes. If you require any follow up treatments they normally last 30 minutes.

Who is Osteopathy recommended for?

Osteopaths’ patients include the young, the more mature person, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people. Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, repetitive strain injury, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and minor sports injuries.

What does an osteopath do?

Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle manipulations, depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. Treatment is different for every patient but may include techniques such as different types of soft tissue massage and joint articulation to release tension, stretch muscles, help relieve pain and mobilise your joints. Sometimes, when we move joints you may hear a ‘click’. This is just like the click people get when they crack their knuckles.

Does osteopathic treatment hurt and are there any side effects after treatment?

Some soft tissue treatment may cause slight discomfort during treatment. Your osteopath will tell you what to expect, and will want you to let them know if you are uncomfortable. You may feel a little stiff or sore after treatment but this is not unusual, however this will quickly subside. This is a normal, healthy response to the treatment. Osteopathy is a very safe & effective form of treatment & most patients feel substantially better for it.

How many sessions of Osteopathy do you need?

The number of sessions you need depends on the condition and person we are treating. The aim is to keep your appointments to a minimum. Your osteopath will be able to tell you within a short period of time the number of treatments required and this will be discussed with you after the diagnosis has been explained at your initial assessment.

How do you get referred to an osteopath and do I have to be referred by my doctor?

You do not need to see your doctor first if you are paying for your own treatment. However, some insurance companies require you to see your doctor first. Osteopathy is available on the NHS in some areas – and national guidelines say it should be available everywhere for low back pain. Osteopaths are skilled in diagnostic techniques and trained to identify when a patient needs to be referred to a GP.

Can I claim on my private medical insurance for my Osteopathic treatments?

Most private health insurance policies accommodate for osteopathic treatment. It may be possible to claim for a course of treatment but you need to enquire in advance with your insurance company before obtaining osteopathic treatment, in order to confirm the available level of cover and whether you will need to have a referral from your GP or a specialist.

What do you need to become an osteopath?

To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, all osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered. The British Medical Association’s guidance for general practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.

Osteopaths are required to update their training throughout their working lives. They must complete at least 30 hours of Continuing Professional Development per year.

Who sets the standards of training and practice for osteopaths?

The standards of osteopathic training and practice are provided and promoted by the General Osteopathic Council, the profession’s statutory regulator established under the Osteopaths Act 1993.

Is Osteopathy safe?

The evidence suggests that Osteopathy has one of the best safety records of any medically associated profession.

Osteopaths are trained to recognise complaints/disorders that may make osteopathic treatment inappropriate and the patient would therefore be referred to the appropriate clinician when required.

In the same way, a GP would identify safety as the most important factor in deciding a suitable medication for a particular patient, an Osteopath would also identify the correct style of treatment with safety being held as the number one consideration.

What are the side effects of Osteopathy?

The most common side-effect is some general aching/soreness for 24-48 hours, however, most people do not experience any side effects at all.

Scott Osteopathic & Health Clinic. ‘Expert Care and Pain Relief for the Entire Family’. Osteopaths in Bearsted