There can be a lot of confusion as to what osteopathy treatments work, what they can do and how they differ from chiropractic treatments, so we managed to put your questions to Katie to give you accurate answers from our resident expert!
What’s the difference between osteopathy and chiropractic treatment?
Osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic are all types of manual therapy. Therefore there are similarities as well as differences between the disciplines, and every practitioner will treat differently dependant on their background and experience. Chiropractic was founded by a student of the founder of osteopathy.
Traditionally speaking, chiropractors treat the body principally through manipulating or ‘adjusting’ the spine, believing that by getting every segment of the spine moving as they should (‘in alignment’). That will affect posture and signals sent by the nervous system and will thus reduce pain and increase function.
Osteopaths traditionally have a saying “structure governs function”, which means we look at how you are working, what movements are and aren’t happening and try to correct that. So if your muscles are loose and your joints are moving your condition will improve. We aim to take a whole body approach, and look at the ways in which your lifestyle, work and general health will have an impact on your condition. The treatment may involve manipulation, as well as more gentle techniques such as stretching and articulation.
Will you still need to ‘crack’ me back into place during a treatment?
Cracking back into place is a bit of a myth! The pop you hear when joints are manipulated and ‘cavitate’ is thought to be due to pressure changes in the joint which can lead to local muscle relaxation and an increase in range of motion. However, there are some risks involved and some side effects, including stiffness and tenderness which, understandably, cause some people to want to avoid the ‘cracks’.
It is never 100% necessary to have your spine manipulated, and it isn’t used in certain conditions, so we don’t manipulate everyone. If you do not want to be manipulated please let the osteopath know and we won’t do it. We always let you know what techniques will be used before your treatment begins, to be sure you are happy.
What can osteopathy help with?
Osteopaths may help those with a variety of medical conditions, including:
- Generalised aches and pains
- Joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis
- Arthritic pain
- General, acute and chronic backache, back pain (not arising from injury or accident)
- Headache arising from the neck/migraine prevention
- Frozen shoulder, shoulder/elbow pain/tennis elbow arising from musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, but not isolated occurrences
- Circulatory problems
- Digestion problems
- Joint pains, lumbago
- Muscle spasms
- Inability to relax
- Rheumatic pain
To name a few!
Can an osteopath recommend my GP send me for specific tests/scans?
Yes, osteopaths are able to refer patients back to their GP with a request for tests or scans related to the muscuoloskeletal system. If you are self-funding or have private health insurance we can refer you for a private scan, which should be done within the week.
If we think your problem is not muscuoloskeletal (doesn’t come from your muscles, ligaments, joints or discs) we can write to your GP and explain our findings, passing you onto their care.
How long will the benefits last and how many sessions will I need? Is there anything I can do at home between treatments to help myself?
Obviously this varies massively, depending on the individual. Longer term problems tend to take longer to get better, some conditions (such as curvature of the spine or osteoarthritis) have to be managed rather than cured, and people who are in good health to start with get better quicker. Sometimes a simple strain can be successfully treated in one session.
We always give take-home advice, whether that be exercises, adjustments to work desks, postural advice or lifestyle tips, and the closer you follow that advice the sooner you will feel a benefit.
In general we should be able to tell within three treatments if we are making progress and be able to give you a good idea of what the outcome will be.
If you are struggling with an ongoing niggle, annoying pain that just won’t go away or mobility issues, there are always solutions out there.