What is the difference between chiropractic and osteopathy or physiotherapy?
Chiropractic is a complementary and alternative health care profession which focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, their effects on the nervous system, and on general health.
Chiropractic’s premise is that spinal joint misalignments, which chiropractors call vertebral subluxations, can interfere with the nervous system and result in many different conditions of diminished health.
In contrast, the term subluxation, as used in conventional medicine, is usually associated with specific conditions which are a direct consequence of injury to joints or associated nerves.
Manipulation of the spine is the main technique in today’s chiropractic adjustment, or treatment. Though its use has been documented from the time of the ancient Egyptians, spinal manipulation in an attempt to correct the theoretical vertebral subluxation is solely a chiropractic endeavor.
Chiropractic’s contribution to the field of manipulative therapies is the concept of applying a precise adjustment to a specific affected vertebra, as opposed to the generalized maneuvers of the early osteopaths.
While some chiropractors adhere strictly to the use of only spinal manipulation in their adjustment, others include a broad range of methods directed at correcting the subluxation and/or just relieving musculoskeletal pain.
Osteopathy is a theory of disease and method of cure founded on the assumption that deformation of some part of the skeleton and consequent interference with the adjacent nerves and blood-vessels are the cause of most diseases. (Oxford English Dictionary).
Practitioners of osteopathy, called osteopaths have a holistic approach; osteopathic philosophy requires addressing the whole person in diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury, using manual and physical therapies (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, or OMM).
With its origins in the late 1800′s, osteopathy was initially a variant of the contemporary Western medical approach, and became integrated with mainstream medicine in 1969.
Osteopathic medicine (formerly known as osteopathy) is a complete system of medical care with a philosophy that combines the needs of the patient with current practice of medicine, surgery and obstetrics.
The emphasis is on the interrelationship between structure and function, and has an appreciation of the body’s ability to heal itself. Outside the United States, “osteopathic medicine” is often used interchangeably with “osteopathy”.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or D.O.s, apply the philosophy of treating the whole person (holistic approach) to the prevention (medical), diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease and injury using conventional medical practice such as drugs and surgery, along with manual therapy (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine or OMM).
Physical therapy (or physiotherapy*) is the provision of services to people and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan.
It includes the provision of services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by the process of ageing or that of injury or disease. Full and functional movement are at the heart of what it means to be healthy.
Physiotherapy is concerned with identifying and maximizing movement potential, within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
It involves the interaction between physical therapist, patients or clients, families and care givers, in a process of assessing movement potential and in establishing agreed upon goals and objectives using knowledge and skills unique to physical therapists.
The physiotherapists distinctive view of the body and its movement needs and potential is central to determining a diagnosis and an intervention strategy and is consistent whatever the setting in which practice is undertaken.
These settings will vary in relation to whether physical therapy is concerned with health promotion, prevention, treatment or rehabilitation.
–description of the nature of physiotherapy approved by the 14th General Meeting of the World Confederation For Physical Therapy (WCPT), May 1999
Physiotherapy intervention may include:
“Manual handling; movement enhancement; physical, electrotherapeutic and mechanical agents; functional training; provision of aids and appliances; patient related instruction and counselling; documentation and coordination, and communication.
Intervention may also be aimed at prevention of impairments, functional limitations, disability and injury including the promotion and maintenance of health, quality of life, and fitness in all ages and populations.”