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When suffering from a painful condition such as back pain, many people are unsure whether they need to see an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor.  There are lots of common misconceptions about the therapies such as; osteopaths only treat backs, or only physio's can treat sports injuries.  The truth is, all three types of therapists are trained to treat all kinds of painful conditions, regardless of whether it's a muscle, joint or nerve causing the pain.  Furthermore, as all clinicians are expected to use the latest available evidence to guide the treatment they provide to their patients, osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors are increasingly treating patients in similar ways.  Historically though, there are differences between the professions that may still be evident when you visit a particular therapist. 


Physiotherapists train in all areas of medicine, much like nurses, they then specialise in a particular area after they graduate, such as musculoskeletal pain.  Most physiotherapists who work in private practice will have gained such specialist experience, however, it is possible that more recent physiotherapy graduates may not have had much experience treating people with musculoskeletal pain.  Generally, physiotherapy involves the patient being active in the treatment process, and treatment sessions typically involve the patient performing exercises under supervision.  Osteopaths on the other hand only train in musculoskeletal pain, meaning they generally have more clinical experience in this area.  During osteopathic treatment the patient is generally passive, with the osteopath doing the treatment, including techniques such as; joint mobilisation, manipulation or soft tissue massage.  Chiropractors also train in musculoskeletal pain and their philosophy focuses on the spine as the cause of symptoms.  This accounts for why treatment mainly consists of manipulation techniques to the spine, often with x-rays taken beforehand to help with the diagnosis.


At City Osteopaths, we will use the treatment approach that is best for you as an individual and is informed by the latest research evidence.  This may include: hands on techniques such as joint mobilisation, manipulation and soft tissue; exercises using our rehab equipment in the clinic and a customised online exercise program with videos for you to use at home; dry needling or medical acupuncture; taping and strapping; orthotic prescription; electrotherapy; and cranial osteopathy.  The most important thing about choosing a practitioner is finding someone you are comfortable with and trust, to find out more about our practitioners and their specialities, click here.     

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