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Osteopathy vs Chiropractic

Maintaining good physical health is one of the most important aspects of our lives because it influences how we think and feel about ourselves as well as others. It can also affect how we deal with everyday life events, such as relationships, employment and coping with change. Looking after our mental wellbeing is just  as vital as looking after our physical wellbeing.

The Origin

Osteopathy was “discovered” in 1872 by Dr Andrew Taylor Still, an American doctor who

grew disillusioned with orthodox medicine after his wife and three children died from spinal

meningitis. Many accounts of the history of osteopathy mention that one of Dr Still’s early

students was Daniel David Palmer (D D Palmer), who founded chiropractic in 1895. Palmer

reportedly studied with Dr Still for only about six weeks. However, the association between

Dr Still and Palmer is usually not mentioned in accounts of the history of chiropractic.

The Public Awareness

More people seem to know about chiropractors than about osteopaths. This is because historically, chiropractors have been more active in promoting and publicizing their work. Osteopaths tend to be more conservative with regards to marketing and promotions.

The Philosophy

Osteopathy and chiropractic share a common philosophy about the importance of the integrity of the spine in ensuring good health. In fact, this philosophy is shared by almost all traditional healing arts as well as martial arts, including yoga, taiqi (tai chi), aikido and many others. It is also found in many treatment modalities in modern complementary and alternative medicine, including Structural Integration or Rolfing®.

The Treatment Objective

The primary treatment objective of both osteopathy and chiropractic is to remove bodily aches and pain. Osteopaths often seek also to treat functional disorders such as disorders of the respiratory or digestive systems.

The Diagnosis

Osteopaths and chiropractors are both able to perform diagnosis by visual inspection and palpation (feeling by hand). However, chiropractors usually also rely on x-rays for diagnosis. Osteopaths do not order to have x-rays unless they are clinically indicated.

The Treatment Techniques

Chiropractors employ a wider range of techniques for manipulating the spine, whereas osteopaths employ a wider range of techniques overall. Apart from manipulation, osteopaths use other techniques such as Muscle Energy Technique ( MET), Spine Mobilization, Strain/Counter Strain Technique, Myofascial Release, Still Technique or Balanced Ligamentous Technique . Osteopaths are also trained in Visceral Manipulation and cranio sacral therapy, which involve very subtle and gentle adjustments without any “clicking” of the joints. These techniques are seldom used by chiropractors.


The Treatment Duration / Frequency

This is the one factor that depends the most on the practitioner. However, it is generally the case that osteopaths spend longer time with each patient. In addition, osteopathic patients generally require less frequent treatments, and their treatments are spaced out over a longer period of time, rather than twice or three times weekly.

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