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What is the difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath?

Well, the simple answer is that there are more similarities than differences.

We are both professions that perform spinal manipulation. Chiropractors call it an ‘adjustment’. It is fair to say that osteopaths are more likely to focus on soft tissues and do more massage although there are lots of chiropractors who do massage too. In our clinic we use Aquamassage (dry hydrotherapy) and various massage machines to release tight muscles. Whilst the treatment performed by chiropractors and osteopaths is similar, it is often said that chiropractors are more likely to perform a wider range of diagnostic tests and this might include x-rays, something most osteopaths don’t usually have the facility to do.

At Clifton Chiropractic Clinic we have an Insight Scanner that can assess the tension in your spinal muscles as well as tell us if there is any interference in the nerves which go to organs and glands too. It assesses your Heart  Rate Variability too, something which is part of an ECG. The heart Rate Variability tells us if you have a good balance between the fight and flight/refuelling hormones in the body. We are also able to assess your foot posture using laser technology to see if your foot posture is affecting the rest of the body. We can order you custom made orthotics if that is the case. At our clinic we give all our new patients a written report detailing all the positive tests, a diagnosis and plan of management usually involving chiropractic adjustments, exercise and dietary advice as well as strategies for reducing stress.

The first chiropractor, Daniel David Palmer (see picture)  and the first osteopath, Andrew Still did not live very far apart in the Mid-West of the USA in the late 1800s. It is quite possible that the first chiropractor trained as an osteopath and then set about creating his own profession although he always denied that he had undergone osteopathic training. These days chiropractors and osteopaths are registered professions by statute like doctors and dentists. Chiropractors usually undergo a five-year training in the UK and the training of osteopaths is similar.

Daniel David Palmer

It is not usually possible to say whether chiropractic or osteopathic treatment would be best for your problem as we treat the same conditions. It is probably best to get a personal recommendation from a friend or colleague who has seen a chiropractor or osteopath and had a good experience. Whoever you consult, follow their recommendations and give their treatment a good chance to work. A lot of patients get very distressed by pain and rush around consulting everyone and trying everything once. This is unlikely to get you anywhere and you will probably land up spending a lot of money with very little benefit. Someone who assures you they can cure you in one treatment is probably not being entirely honest so have do realistic expectations and give things time, wherever you seek care for your aches and pains.

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