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Osteopath, Chiropractor or Sports Therapist?

Previously Pro-Am has explained the difference between a Physiotherapist and a Sports Therapist. I did this because for some reason Physiotherapy is seen as a more recognised profession because of its use within the NHS but in private practice there are many more choices available.

This article is about the difference between Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Sports Therapists.

This is actually quite hard to explain as many of our skills and practices overlap.  I was going to give a definition for all 3 but they all sounded the same.

All 3 professions can assess, treat and rehabilitate musculoskeletal injuries. All 3 use manual therapy to manipulate soft tissues and joints. And all 3 use exercise to help treat and rehabilitate clients. What makes it so confusing is we all use different methods and terms to assess, treat and rehabilitate, its like we are each in our own tribe with our own languages but in reality we have the same knowledge and end goal: Getting people pain free and healthy.

What are the differences?

You will find the manual therapies used will be slightly different. It can be said that all 3 are classed as complementary medicine but Osteopaths follow a more holistic approach, Chiropractors say they are ‘evidence based’ and Sports Therapists share both approaches.

Osteopaths and Sports Therapists take a full body approach, Chiropractors are seen to be more specialised in the spine but can treat any joint or muscle.

Out of all of them Sports Therapists are much more specialised in their degree training towards musculoskeletal and sports but what makes a sports injury, a sports injury? Many of the injuries sports people get, so do non sporting people. A Sports Therapists most common injuries seen in the clinic will be general neck and back pain from people who have non sporting backgrounds. A lot of the techniques learnt can help many with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Osteopaths and Chiropractors have a choice to specialise in many other areas and treat a wider variety of other health problems like vertigo, tinnitus, asthma, IBS ect. They can also specialise in working with athletes. Osteopaths and Chiropractors are a protected profession by the health council so all are guaranteed to have completed a degree, sadly Sports Therapy is still battling for this recognition and until then please check that the Sports Therapist you see has the letters BSc after their name and are registered with The Society of Sports Therapists.

You will find many Osteopaths or Chiropractors will also train in Sports Therapy or Physio and vice versa. Sadly you do get some arrogant therapists who will say ‘Osteopaths are the best’ or ‘Chiropractors can only deal with your injury’.

‘No one profession is better than the other, they have different approaches towards the same outcome’

For each therapist no matter what profession, it’s all about building a good solid reputation and offering a great service to help people in pain, improve their life and enable them to get back into what ever activity they enjoy.

My advice, ask around, word of mouth is all 3 professions main way of advertising, recommendations are everything to us. What ever injury or illness, seek out a professional who specialises in that area. If you are still not sure then find a local therapist in your area and give them a ring and ask, we are all here to help and give advice. This may be you booking an appointment there and then or it may be information of another therapist who is best suited to your needs. If your not happy with one therapist DO NOT let it put you off, its like anything in life we are all different and respond to things and personalities  in different ways.