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GeneralPhysiotherapy vs Osteopathy: Key Differences

Dealing with physical pain from a back injury can make every day feel excruciating and can have a significant impact on your daily life. Naturally, you would want to find a way to manage pain and get rid of it. Yet, when it comes to back injury treatment, there are different avenues you can take to treat it.

For the most part, people either opt for physiotherapy or osteopathy as a means of treatment for their back pain. Yet, all too frequently, people can’t distinguish the differences between them, leading to confusion about what treatment would be suitable.

Learn how physiotherapy and osteopathy differ and ensure you find the right treatment for you!

Approach to Treatment

Physiotherapy and osteopathy share a lot of overlap through treating similar physical conditions. Yet, when it comes to their approach to treatment, that’s where you see how different they are in comparison.

Physiotherapy Defined

Alternatively known as physical therapy, it’s a medical health profession that helps restore movement and function to those affected by an injury, illness, or disability.

Physiotherapy’s approach to treatment is through the following:

  • A physical examination
  • Diagnosis
  • Prognosis
  • Patient education
  • Physical intervention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Disease Prevention
  • Health promotion

Suppose you’re still uncertain of what physiotherapy entails. In that case, a good example of it in action is when a physiotherapist helps rehabilitate someone who needs to regain strength in their legs after a bad accident. Generally, in these scenarios, a doctor will recommend that said accident patient into physiotherapy to help restore movement and reduce their pain.

Osteopathy Defined

Unlike physiotherapy, osteopathy takes a more holistic approach toward helping restore movement and reducing pain. The idea behind osteopathy is to work with the structure and function of your body. Osteopathy’s key principle is that the person’s well-being depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues’ capacity to work smoothly together. It’s considered a form of alternative medicine since it adheres to the idea that all parts are intrinsically linked, and your body has its own healing mechanism.

In osteopathy, they emphasize physical manipulation of your body’s muscle tissue and bones as a treatment alongside stretching and massage.

Through osteopathy, it endeavours to achieve the following:

  • Increase joint mobility
  • Relieve muscle tension
  • Improve blood and nerve supply
  • Promote your body’s healing mechanisms

Methods of Treatment

For the most part, you can expect both a physiotherapist and osteopath to give them a rundown of what’s troubling you physically, along with general health questions and your medical history. However, this is where their similarities end, as their treatment methods are vastly different.

Physiotherapist’s Method

After going over things with a physiotherapist, you can expect them to want you to demonstrate how much movement you can do through certain exercises. Once the physiotherapist has a good assessment of your physical condition, they will recommend exercise techniques that you can use to help increase strength and motion.

You are expected to take responsibility for your care by continuing these exercises at home. As you progress, your physiotherapist might recommend newer exercises.

Alongside these exercises, a physiotherapist might suggest other treatment options like:

  • Massages
  • Acupuncture
  • Ultrasound
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

To put it simply, a physiotherapist will help build up strength and mobility more actively and specifically target problem areas.

Osteopath’s Method

An osteopath will want to get to the root of your issue by treating your body as a whole. So, an osteopath will ask you to perform some movements and examine you as a physiotherapist would. However, as they’re examining you, they will use their hands to indicate areas of strain, weakness, soreness or limitations on movement.

Once done, they will implement a treatment technique through manual therapy to help return your body’s bones and tissues to their proper balance. To help relieve stiffness and tension, they will do so through a massage along joints or your spine’s soft tissue and loosen joints of the vertebrae.

Additionally, they can apply a muscle energy technique that requires you to push against them while applying a counterforce. This technique is used to increase the range of motion in a joint. You can expect beyond these methods that an osteopath will recommend you make small changes in your lifestyle to help bring your body back to full alignment and avoid issues in the future.

Physiotherapy and osteopathy are good treatment options to help with any physical issues. However, more severe physical problems are best treated by a physiotherapist, while an osteopath would be best for more minor physical issues.

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