Chiropractor or Osteopath? What do they Do? How are they different?

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all articles on Yoga Concepts

What does a osteopath or chiropractor do?

If you drop a cursory glance over the working

of a chiropractor and a osteopath,

you won’t be able to distinguish much

between the two. Both of them use their hands

to work on different areas of the body,

which looks like stretching, thumping, kneading, or massaging

Chiropractor or Osteopath

Though a lot is common between the two, still both stand on clearly demarcated platforms where diagnosing and treating a problem is concerned. Both the practices had emerged out of the creative urges of two gentlemen to find an alternative lo conventional medicine system for curing physical pain.

Osteopathy, as a discipline was developed by Andrew Taylor Still,ei 1874, whereas chiropractics was the brain child of Daniel David Palmer,.and the term gained recognition in 1895. Rather, the latter is believed to be the student of the former, and thus, chiropractics is also considered as the subsection nestled within the larger concept of osteopathy.

Chiropractor or Osteopath – Similarities.

Chiropractor or osteopath, the diagnosis process for both these practitioners appear similar in a number of aspects:

Both use touch and observation as a tool for understanding the problem. Both would also rely on the pulse rate at the diagnosis stage.Other similarities are apparent in their ways of imparting treatment to their patients. Both would use manipulation of the skeletal system, especially the spine.

Stretching of the joints, and extending and contracting the muscles play a crucial role in the mode of providing relief from the nagging pain.Chiropractor focus on joint and muscle’s pain. They are mainly in adjustment of vertebrae of spine disorder. where as osteopath uses to treat broader range of disorders. That is the only difference in chiropractor and osteopath.

They are also similar in the way general people look at them; both are seen as dealing with pain associated with the bones and the joints in particular. Both the practitioners can help heal neck pain, lower back pain, or shoulder pain, as all these discomforts have their origin in the musculoskeletal system. Its jus their approach that draws the line of demarcation between the two.

How are they Different? Chiropractor and Ostheopath

The difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor lies in the span of the area they use and cover in designing their treatment lines. Osteopath consider the interdependence of the functions, and organs of the entire body behind the cause for the ensuing pain, but, a chiropractor attributes all the causes behind the body pains to the misalignments in the structure of the spine.

Approach taken by a Chiropractor

Spine is the fulcrum from which the healthy functioning of all the other organs of the body hangs around. A chiropractor firmly believes that owing to the central position of the spine, related to the relay of nerve signals form the brain to every nook and corner of the body, any misalignment within its sub parts – vertebrae – can impede the transmission of these signals to and fro.

That is the reason, in Yoga, great importance is given to keeping the spine vertically aligned straight up, in order for the extract the desired benefits from the practice involved. Any misaligned section of the spine can put undue pressure on other sections of the skeleton, a wrongly aligned cervical region of the spine can throw the neutral positioning of the head over the shoulders into disarray, resulting in neck, shoulders, or upper back pain.

The premises for deciding upon a treatment line for the chiropractor would be, that a properly aligned spine will keep the skeleton and the organs resting within its grooves in a healthy alignment too each other.

Thus, aligning the spine back into its natural curve is the tool for all of the chiropractor’s treatments. This can take a few jerk, or force alignment thrusts with his hands along the length of the spine. A chiropractor can recommend an X-ray of the affected area to better understand the degree of mis-alignment of the part involved.

The over all concern of a chiropractor is the spine and the related joints, along with the quality of functioning of the entire nervous system. A chiropractor firmly believes that an aligned spine will help improve the range of movement of all the joints, which will enhance their performance, and indirectly heal, or reduce the associated pain.

Persons suffering from any form of lower back pain, pain the neck, Sciatica nerve pain, any pain emerging from a road accident, pain due to rheumatism, strains or sprains, and any type of headaches or migraines can benefit from visiting a chiropractor.

Additionally, if required, he /she may prescribe a particular exercise program, along with alternate application of heat and cold to the affected area.

Approach taken by a Osteopath

An osteopath, on the other hand will involve relaxing the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding a joint. He would use physical massage for this purpose. An osteopath believes that the entire body and its functions are interconnected which must stay integrated the right way in order for the body to function in a healthy manner.

This means, that a misaligned joint will not only cause discomfort only in the affected joint but can also have an impact on a hormones secreting gland, like adrenal glands. This may impair all the functions of the body which are dependent on the hormones secreted from that gland. For example; a misaligned knee joint will cause the knee to be painful while walking.

The affected person will be forced to alter the gait (tilt the body on one side), in order to reduce the pain, while walking which can in turn put undue pressure on the hormonal glands present on the side the body is tilted to, leading to their malfunction. An osteopath will heal the problem with the deductive method: where the chain of cause and effect is traced to the real problem at hand.

Thus, like a chiropractor, an osteopath can cure the pains and aches associated with the wrong alignments of the skeletal system, but he also attributes the cause to the muscle tone, and the tissues surrounding the skeletal system. Since the approach of an osteopath is wholistic, they can help you cure non- bone related diseases like depression, diabetes, anxiety, and hypertension as well.

Modes of Treatment used by Chiropractor or Osteopath

Both, osteopath and a chiropractor would use ways to reduce the compression on the nerves emerging from between the vertebrae in the spinal cord, like using a metallic traction device which freezes the distance between two vertebrae by force and keep it so for longer durations.

They may also stimulate the nerves with some electronic devices and recommend healthy diet along with directions on how to maintain a healthy life style. A chiropractor would employ techniques for re-aligning the bones and the joints along with improving the efficiency of the nerve function, where as, a osteopath would use the re-alignment techniques along with massage, and stretching to improve the blood circulation, this is expected to enhance the overall health of the being.

Both, the chiropractor or the osteopath, must educate the patients on how to stand the right way, how to walk and sit the right way to avoid any future complications related to the skeletal system. A chiropractor can help you modify activities you love doing on daily basis, so that it doesn’t have a detrimental affect on the structure of the body.

An osteopath can help you heal conditions like period pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sinus infections. Treatment methods of both the practitioners emphasize upon restoring tissue and muscle balance, to remove any restrictions to the healthy flow of bodily fluids within the organ systems. They generally use technologies like electrical impulses, and ultrasound waves to manipulate the muscle tissues to achieve their intended ends.

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