Osteopath vs Physiotherapist vs Chiropractor


Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Myotherapists, Massage Therapists.

The list of who to see when you are in pain seems to be getting longer and more confusing.

Who is the best health care provider for pain?

Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist? There are so many competing professions and therapists offering treatment for the same injuries and it can be very confusing.

If you need treatment for pain or injury, there are a few things you should look for.

Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor

Firstly, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists HAVE to be registered with a government registration board. This registration is essential, as it is illegal to work without it. Registration ensures they don’t have criminal or sexual convictions, are keeping up to date with research and developments in their field, and uphold some necessary standards when dealing with the public.

Professional Registration

Next, look for practitioners who are members of their professional association, as the professional body acts as a de facto regulator.

Being a member of a professional association like Osteopathy Australia or the Australian Physiotherapy Association means the therapist shows commitment to professional standards, clinical development and their profession.

Good Listeners

A good therapist will not rush you, but should give you time to explain everything about your complaint. They should take a history of your issues and ask about your general health and medical history, all essential for understanding the nature of your complaint.

You should feel free to ask questions and have these answered to your satisfaction. Expectations are crucial in a healthy interaction and should be discussed in a meaningful way.

Good Communicators

Before treating you the therapist should clearly explain what they are going to do, including any risks of injury from treatment. Good communication is the backbone of a successful therapeutic experience leading to trust and rapport between you and your therapist.

Your therapist should also come to some clear degree of diagnosis. Importantly, they should clearly explain this in terms you understand. They should give you an idea of what is wrong, how long the problem should last, and how they propose to treat it.

So, who should you see?

Ultimately, who you choose to consult with is a personal decision, but you should feel comfortable with your therapist and have trust in their judgment and advice. This is essential for your successful treatment.

I’m an Osteopath, so I’m biased! But I feel that Osteopaths are a great choice for treatment of a range of issues including back pain, neck pain, sports injuries, tendonitis etc. We take time considering psychosocial contributing factors to body pain, a position that is strongly backed by research on pain and suffering. Osteopaths are highly trained in obtaining a diagnosis and always use hands-on techniques for pain relief.  We will form a treatment plan specifically for you and work with you to get you back to optimum health.

Tips for avoiding bad Therapists:

  • Stay away from people asking you to pay upfront for multiple treatments. This can be a ploy to sell you more treatments than necessary.
  • Be cautious if you are being told you need upfront X-Rays. This is rarely the case outside of traumatic injuries.
  • Beware of pressure selling techniques. You should never feel pushed to keep making appointments, especially if your pain is getting better.
  • Beware the merchants of fear: If anyone tells you that you are going to end up in a wheelchair without their treatment give them a wide berth.
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