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pelvic alignment | rotated pelvis | pelvis imbalance

What is the difference between Osteo and Chiro?

Written by Boroondara Osteopathy

A well-known clinic in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs founded by Dr Katie Willy (Osteopath)

osteopath balwyn | Katie Willy |

Is there a difference between osteo and chiro?

This question is a very common one we get from patients, and one that has no straightforward answer as to the differences between osteo and chiro .

My standard response is “I cant speak for Chiropractors and what they do, and it’s unfair to generalize a whole profession”.  From the outside they look similar, both are manual therapies, Osteopathy and Chiropractic courses run for 5 years at university, they both study anatomy, physiology, pathology and then separates off into to osteopathic/Chiropractic disciplines principles, treatment, and techniques.

The difference I believe, could lie in the principles that underpins the professions.

Osteopaths are governed by 4 main principles: 

  1. The body is a unit. 
  2. The body is self-healing. 
  3. Structure and function are interrelated. 
  4. The above govern how we approach and treat problems as osteopaths 

The Australian Chiropractors Association describe their profession as:

Chiropractors play an important role in the spinal healthcare of everyday Australians by using a variety of non-surgical techniques, such as specific spinal adjustments, manual therapy and low-force intervention. Chiropractors offer a drug-free, hands-on approach to spinal healthcare.

Where one major difference lies could be in that last sentence, that Chiropractic is a hands-on approach to spinal care.

Osteopathy incorporates spinal care into a whole body view and treatment approach alongside the rest of the body rather than having it as the main focus of therapy as stated by by the Chiro Association.

Osteopathy to me is…

What I can speak for is my experience and knowing what we do and offer in this clinic as osteopaths. As I said, we look at the whole body, we take a thorough history (even stuff that happened as a child), we work out how previous injuries and traumas have impacted your body as a whole.

We test and retest joints, bones, and muscles, to see how they move and respond to after an exercise or hands on treatment.  The spine is a part of this assessment, so yes we treat the spine also.

Our process is to decipher the cause of issues as well as treating the annoying acute symptoms, uncovering connected areas to your pain is essential so you are not left with frustrating ongoing issues. We love doing the detective work and solving cases, the niggles that have been bugging people for long periods of time, the niggles that have been seen by every other person with minimal results, they are our favourites to work out and the most satisfying to solve.    

As highly trained AHPRA registered allied health professionals, osteopaths incorporate a number of different techniques to achieve the best outcomes for their patients. These include, but are not limited to:

  • soft tissue techniques
  • exercise and movement practices
  • massage
  • stretching
  • HVLA (spinal manipulation techniques which elicit that oh so satisfying ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ sound),
  • craniosacral therapy
  • trigger point therapy
  • amongst many more.

These techniques will always be tailored to each patient and are either selected or excluded for use based on their ability to help patients fulfill their own personal health and well-being goals. 

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