Osteopathy and physiotherapy
A commonly asked question is “What’s the difference between an Osteopath and a Physiotherapist?”
The fact that we both treat musculoskeletal injury can make it difficult for people to choose the type of treatment that will work best for their condition. The truth is, is that for many problems, both Physiotherapy and Osteopathy will help.
Traditionally Osteopathy has long been linked to back and neck pain, even though we treat the whole body with much success. Physiotherapy is often linked to rehabilitation, exercise prescription and sports injury. These preconceptions are quite outdated now. The reality is that both disciplines are more intertwined and the boundaries more blurred. It is more dependent on the interests of the individual therapist, the extra courses they have done and their experience.
Physiotherapists are trained with an emphasis on exercise-based management or rehabilitation, a vital part of the recovery process. Physiotherapy diagnosis and treatment is often less 'hands-on' (around 60%) as more focus is given to observing movement and correction and often use machines like ultrasound. They are also seen as the first port of call after fractures have healed to strengthen the weakened bone and muscles. The techniques employed by physiotherapists vary from soft tissue techniques like massage and passive joint movements, to rehabilitation exercise programs. Ultrasound and other machines are often also used.
Osteopaths are trained to look at the body as a whole to help locate areas of strain and dysfunction, a frequent cause of injury and pain. An analysis of the body allows us to diagnose and treat the injury using a variety of gentle techniques including massage, manipulation (“clicking” joints), articulation and others. Advice on management of the condition, posture and exercises for rehabilitation are added to help the patients’ injuries to resolve. Osteopaths diagnose and treat problems with muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints – the same as physiotherapists and chiropractors. Osteopathy is a “hands on” treatment and uses no machines typically.
The advantage of treating the causes of the injury alongside the injury itself, help to resolve difficult, recurring musculoskeletal problems. This biomechanical assessment of the body can be applied to complex movements like sport as well as more minimal movements and static postures. Whatever may be the root cause of the injury.