What’s the difference between a Chiropractor, a Physiotherapist, and an Osteopath?

question A.I.M Muscles and Joints Physiotherapy Chiropractic
By Dr Luke Attkins

One of the most frequently asked questions that we have been asked at A.I.M Muscles and Joints from patients is; What is the difference between a Chiropractor, a Physiotherapist, or an Osteopath? Looking at the surface of this question it would be clear and simple, however the number of questions and the amount of confusion support that it evidentially is not. As most people know common practices for Chiropractors are to deal just with manipulation and joints, whereby Physiotherapist’s tend to deal more with stretching and muscles, and an Osteopath tend to do soft tissue work and manipulation similar to a Chiropractor. However, with the evolution of these professions it has blurred the lines considerably in what each profession does differently, it is not uncommon to see a Physiotherapist that does manipulations and a Chiropractor that does soft tissue work and stretches. So, the question is where does the line get drawn? Over the years I have generally always conclude that anytime someone has an injury it isn’t just one thing but multiple joint and a muscle involvement. When you look at the human body, every joint is crossed by at least one muscle, and vice versa for joints. So because of this, anytime you injure a muscle it will affect the joint and every time you injure a joint it will affect the muscle so we must deal with both areas simultaneously. The team here at A.I.M Muscles and Joints have studied and learned a wide range of different treatment interventions that would commonly referred to as Physiotherapy techniques. The confusion is that these techniques while being used often by Physiotherapist are not specifically Physiotherapy techniques. So when we look at rehabilitation from a hip or shoulder injury, athletic injury, muscle tear, or a strain, it is commonly seen that a Physiotherapist only could help, however a lot of patients at A.I.M Muscles and Joints that we treat have multiples of these types of injuries. Generally, the management of different injuries is time based surrounding milestones that are inherit in recovery of the tissue in question. Although our treatment at A.I.M Muscles and Joints can confuse patients at times, the background of why we’re using a particular technique and whether it is Chiropractic, Osteopathy or Physiotherapy we certainly deal with a wider range of complaints then most people would realise. When we look at athlete injury management, we would use a wide range of soft tissue work in conjunction with joint manipulation or adjustments (when and if indicated), followed by rehabilitation exercises to help with movement patterns. This tends to be a model that we use with the general population as well; adjustments to relieve the irritation, soft tissue to take out tension, and exercises to re-educate the muscles and surrounding structures. For many conditions any of the three professions or modalities could get a great result and interestingly some people seem to respond more to a particular person or style of intervention rather than a particular profession. However there are certain cases where people may have had an interaction with someone previously that has not pleasant or gotten a good result and unfortunately this often leads them to label all of that profession as ineffective. I hope this has cleared up some of your thoughts or questions in regards to Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, and Osteopaths. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask our team via phone, email or in person at our clinic.