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What is the difference between Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Physiotherapy? Part 3: Method



In Part 1 and Part 2 we discussed the History and Philosophy of Chiropractic, Osteopathy, and Physiotherapy in our 3 part blog series.  This blog we will be taking look a the methods of each of these disciplines.


The Chiropractic method is largely varied depending on who you see and what kind of Chiropractic they use. The main objective of any Chiropractic is to restore posture and function to the spine, which should in turn alleviate pain and revive heath to the nervous system. This is achieved through specific analysis and manual correction of spinal disfunction.
There are many different Chiropractic techniques which employ all kinds of instruments to help in the analysis and manual correction of the spine. Some Chiropractors use x-rays to analyse the spine, while some employ other methods of analysis, such as checking leg length. A nervoscope is often used to find inflammation in the spine by checking skin temperature. Some Chiropractors use an instrument called an Activator to make there adjustments, while others find the best tool for the job is their hands.
Chiropractors may recommend exercises to help strengthen the core muscles to help support the spine, or to treat the area of adjustment with ice. Often they will recommend movement, such as gentle walking, immediately after treatment as movement helps improve function in the spine. They may also recommend massage to help alleviate any soft tissue tension that might be affecting the health of the spine. Often Chiropractors will create a care or treatment plan in which they will set out a rough time frame of treatments to get the patient back to better health.


Osteopaths will assess the body and employ the best technique for the specific issue. Osteopathy uses a range of different techniques to restore the body to full function. Some of these methods cross from structural corrections to soft tissue work and may include myofascial release, manual adjustments, joint mobilisation, ligamentous tension, and muscle energy technique. An Ostoepathic adjustment is considered more generalised than the specific Chiropractic work, crossing more than one joint or boney segment, and often treating the soft tissue in the area of the adjustments, as well as the joint.
Osteopaths will often recommend take home instructions to help support the manual work they have done. This can also include using heat or ice to specific areas, stretches, and specific exercises.


Physiotherapy is as varied as Osteopathy and Chiropractic, with some Physiotherapists working in rehabilitation, sports therapy, workplace or occupational therapy. They can employ a range of different techniques from manual work such as joint manipulation or mobilisation, muscle stretching, and kinds of massage, as well as using other techniques such as dry needling, taping, and TENS treatments. Some Physiotherapists even employ neurodynamics, a treatment to help restore full nerve function.
Physiotherapy will almost almost involve exercise of some kind, tailored specifically to the patients injury or rehabilitation. This may include stretching and/or strengthening exercises, rehabilitation exercises to help restore function to or retrain certain parts of the body.

In reality there is often an overlap of techniques between these three professions. Some Chiropractors treat using Osteopatic methods, some Osteopaths treat using Physiotherapy techniques, and some Physiotherapists practice exclusively with back and neck pain, which was the traditional domain of Chiropractors and Osteopaths. Regardless of the profession each health care professional will treat differently depending on where they have studied, their own personal philosophy, what experience has taught them and what is in the best interest of the patient.

Here at Yarra Hills Chiropractic, the Chiropractors solely employ the Gonstead System of Chiropractic. They abide by Palmers original theories and use a hands on approach when treating their patients. That being said all of our Chiropractors have their own style and special interest, and while one Chiropractor may treat a concern differently from another, the objective is the same, to restore function to the spine and restoring the body to full health and function.

Contact us to find out more about Yarra Hills Chiropractic.