When you are looking to choose a therapist you want to know if they are going to be able to get you better or not and you may be torn between going to see an osteopath or a chiropractor. There are actually many similarities between both professions and sometimes just by observing you may not be able to tell the difference as some therapists may treat in a similar way to the opposite profession.
Osteopaths and chiropractors are both hands on professions, regulated by a governing body- General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and the General Chiropractic Council (GCC)- which means that all practitioners have passed a clinical competency exam indicating their ability as practitioners.
Osteopaths and Chiropractors both perform joint manipulations (the techniques that cause “clicks”) in order to regain function of a restricted joint. Chiropractors tend to (but not exclusively) mainly treat the spine with the belief that problems in the body arise from a poor nerve output from the spine. They do also on occasion adjust the peripheral joints too but less so than the spine. Osteopaths adjust the spine and also the peripheral joints equally as their philosophy is that a problem can arise in the body due to any part of the body being out of alignment.
Chiropractic treatments don’t require any removal of clothing as chiropractor treat patients fully dressed. Treatments also tend to be about half the duration of osteopathic treatments, lasting between 5 and 15 minutes and involves almost only joint manipulations of the spine. Osteopathic treatments on the other hand do require a state of undress (underwear stays on though) so that the practitioner can see the whole body to look for areas of poor movement or changes in colour for example. Osteopaths will then often do some massage techniques to loosen surrounding muscles before manipulating so that the manipulations are less aggressive on the body.
As mentioned already, there is a huge overlap between practitioners of both professions, so it is important that you do your research first, feel comfortable with the practitioner and like their style of treatment because if you don’t and you are not able to relax in your treatment then you will not improve as quickly as you should.