Atlas Pain Relief Centre
Osteopaths - Sports Injury Specialists - Physiotherapists
Telephone - 01827 59943
Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists compared
Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist, which one do I need, and what is the difference? This is a common question from members of the public and depending on who you ask you will probably get different answers. It is far easier to compare the similarities between them rather than the differences.
Firstly it is important to stress that this is my opinion based on experience of having worked alongside all professions. My name is John Williams, a GOsC registered Osteopath and HPC registered Physiotherapist. I am Clinic Director of Atlas Pain Relief Centre based in Tamworth Atherstone and Solihull Birmingham.
I begin by stating that all three professions treat the same patients, it is probably that each profession has a slightly different approach thats all. Within the professions you will get individuals with certain specialities that they have more experience in, and feel more comfortable with.
All three professions are regulated by their respective governing bodies and are highly trained. All three follow a recognised university degree programme. Physiotherapy can be either a 3 or 4 year programme of training whereas Osteopaths and Chiropractors cover a 4 or 5 year training programme.
Currently the Physiotherapists are found mostly within the NHS on completion of their training as they are the largest employers. Osteopaths and Chiropractors are mainly in private practice but will at some stage in the future I believe, be working within the NHS framework.
The training of each profession is slightly different but increasingly there appears to be more crossover.
For a long time Osteopaths and Chiropractors were performing High Velocity Thrusts (HVT’s) which is the cracking of backs and necks and requires much expertise. Now we see Physiotherapists training in this type of treatment, however I feel that many practitioners perform these techniques after short training workshops, and the lack of training in this area concerns me. Acupuncture is another similar workshop training that can produce practitioners with little experience. The public should, in my opinion, be informed of the length of training in this activity as poor results from an inexperienced practitioner can give the profession a bad name.
Physiotherapists are trained in electrotherapy and more Osteopaths and Chiropractors now use this form of treatment.
Chiropractors use the title “Doctor” in front of their name whereas Osteopaths refused this option as they felt the public may confuse them with GP’s. Most Chiropractors are not GP’s and are only using the title “Doctor of Chiropractic” The general public are confused about who does what and are told such a variety of answers to their questions they are understandably confused.
At Atlas Pain Relief Centre our aim is to be honest with our patients and put their welfare first.
Let us look at some of the comments and questions I am asked on a regular basis.
Q - I am told i need an xray in order to see the condition and determine alignment of my spine !
Well maybe if a fracture or pathology is suspected, but xrays are not good for you and shouldn’t be a routine procedure.
There should be no need to pay for xrays as your GP will refer you for free. This can be done within no more than 2 weeks but if they consider it urgent then it can be done the same day.
After a conversation with the General Chiropractic Council, my understanding is that xrays that are taken by chiropractors become part of your case notes. As such they are kept securely at their clinic and they will not give them to you because they are required to keep them. However as you are entitled to copies of your case notes if you request them, chiropractors must supply you with a copy of the xray if asked.
There is a charge of up to £50 that can be made by the practitioner for the supply of your case notes which means that, should you agree to an xray from a chiropractor you will have to pay for the initial xray, plus should you require a copy of this xray you may have to pay another £50 to have a copy. This has to be factored into the cost of receiving an xray at your chiropractors should you want a copy for your records or indeed wish to have a second opinion on the diagnosis you have been given.
If you consider that the NHS provide xrays via your GP for free then this may be a more cost effective route should you need xray imaging. Your GP should be able to advise you on the use of xrays.
.Q - Your spine is out of alignment and needs a lot of treatment to get it back in line !
The human spine varies in shape and size between individuals and adapts to a variety of situations. To attempt to make a spine that is naturally different to become more traditional would only upset the harmony of the back and create more problems that you may already have. If your spine fails to function correctly then perhaps you may be experiencing a facet lock which is basically vertebrae getting stuck creating a restriction in movement and often accompanied with muscle spasm. Your experienced practitioner should be capable of feeling this restriction and releasing it for you. If you find that you are told to keep returning for the same treatment, then question the treatment plan. Facet locks will not be evident via scans or xrays as they are a problem of function, in other words if you take a photograph of a door when closed, you wouldn’t be able to determine if it is stuck and fails to open would you!
Q - Your pelvis is out of line or twisted
You may experience a rotated ilia which refers to this condition, however they are simple to adjust and should not need to be corrected more than a couple of times. If this continues to occur then there is an underlying problem which needs attention. Continual adjustments (cracking your back and neck) leads to hypermobile joints which will give you more problems. Some practitioners use the term “your pelvis is out, or misaligned” far too often, when in fact it may not be. What springs to mind here is “If your only tool is a hammer, you will always see the world as a nail”
If you get the same treatment every time you go, then maybe it is a set routine you are getting and not customised for you. The possibility is, everyone may be getting the same treatment as you, even though you all present with different problems.
Before any treatment takes place, ask for a diagnosis. If they seem unsure, then get another opinion. If you see no improvement in 4 treatments consider looking for a second opinion.
At Atlas we resolve most back and neck pain between 4 and 6 treatments and will educate patients on their condition, explaining via models of the spine what is wrong and how firstly we intend to correct the problem and more importantly how to prevent this from occurring again.
Q - Finally, how much will it cost.
This depends on individuals and location. Ask how long you will be getting for treatment and how much each session costs. When you have this information compare other professions for value. Ask yourself if you are only offered 10 minutes per session ” am I on a production line and is this sufficient time to help me” £25 may be cheaper than £35 but if you compare 10 minutes to 30 minutes you can make value comparisons. The cheapest isn’t always the best and word of mouth recommendations are valuable”
Beware if you are asked to pay for more than 6 treatments up front!. Some patients are asked for the cost of 24 visits up front, this is not good practice in my opinion.
If you would like any advice on back or neck problems then email email@example.com
or contact reception on 01827 59943