Back Pain – Who Should I See?

12 Oct 2012

When we first get back pain we try to ignore it for a while but when it gets to the stage of not being able to ignore it or get rid of it anymore we have a decision to make – should you go to see a chiropractor or should you go to see an osteopath? Firstly, what are the differences between the two and is one better than the other?

The most profound differences between chiropractors and osteopaths is in their history. The founders of chiropractic believed that all problems in the body arise from a problem in the nervous system. Osteopaths, however, thought that all problems in the body arise from a problem in the vascular system. Over time these philosophies have subtly changed and have become very similar. Problems arise when there is a lack of function one way or another. This could be from a nerve that is being pinched not allowing all the information to be transferred, a muscle that has become tight due to an altered gait, problems in your arteries causing a lack of blood flow, or foreign materials (drugs, alcohol) that cause irreparable problems in the body. In conclusion, chiropractors and osteopaths now have very similar philosophies.

The main differences now come from the education. Both are four or five year masters degrees at an accredited university. Both learn anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, neurology, practical skills and much more but only chiropractors learn about radiology. Chiropractors are trained radiologists, which mean they are able to both take and report on x-rays. Osteopaths are able to train in radiology at a post-graduate level but not all osteopaths choose to do so.

Techniques used by both chiropractors and osteopaths vary very slightly. There is a lot of overlap in the treatment methods but both sets of practitioners have techniques that are unique to them. For example, some chiropractors use sacro-occipital technique whereas osteopaths use a similar but different technique called cranial osteopathy.
So now we know the differences, who should you see?

Both chiropractors and osteopaths are regulated by government so you know that you will be getting safe and effective care from either. If you feel you may need an x-ray then a chiropractor may be the way to go. It is important to find a chiropractor or osteopath that you feel that you can trust, relate to, or have had a personal recommendation for. All chiropractors and osteopaths treat in slightly different ways and it is important to find a technique that suits you best.

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