Bournemouth Physiotherapy
telephone: 01202 296969

Chiropractor Dorset

SPOT THE DORSET DIFFERENCE
Physiotherapist Dorset, Chiropractor Dorset or Osteopath Dorset
A common question asked is:

“What is the difference between a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and Osteopath?”

You will hear many variations to the answer depending on whom you ask.  We prefer to look at the similarities between the professions rather than the differences, as over the years the similarities now out way the differences.

This explanation is, therefore, one of many and is based on our experiences working alongside other professionals such as Chiropractors and Osteopaths.

All three professions undergo a University degree programme and are then regulated by their respective governing bodies.

It is important to understand that all three will see the same types of conditions, however their treatment approach may differ with their skills.  Within each profession you will then find an array of different specialists who have chosen to practice in various fields.

Chiropractor DorsetMany people will talk about the difference between the three professions being that Chiropractors and Osteopaths carry out joint manipulation,
“the cracking of joints”.  It is certainly true that these two professions are highly skilled in the use of joint manipulation. However, here at the East Cliff Physiotherapy Centre, the three Physiotherapists have all undergone further training in the use of joint manipulation and can offer this treatment approach if that is what is deemed necessary.  This is not standard practice in the world of Physio’s but there are more practitioners now with these skills.

Physiotherapists have historically been predominantly based within the NHS setting.  They work in many areas of the hospital treating a wide variety of conditions ranging from neck & back pain through to Stroke rehabilitation and treatment on the Intensive care unit.  It is only more recently that Physiotherapists have branched out into private practices, as a result of restrictions being lifted from governing bodies to allow promotion of the profession in this setting.

This is the opposite to the Osteopathic and Chiropractic professionals who are predominantly found in the private setting straight after they gain their relevant qualifications.  They have grown as the main private supplier of general musculo-skeletal treatment and were only recently recognised and employed in the NHS system.  So the three professions now tend to compliment each other rather than compete.

Physio’s will assess the ‘Whole’ body and look for imbalances between the muscular, skeletal and nervous system creating a treatment programme to address the various structures involved.  When a problem, or problems have then been identified, various treatment techniques are utilised and a home exercise programme is set up for future management and prevention.

Likewise, it has previously been thought that Chiropractors and Osteopaths deem that all symptoms stem from dysfunction within the skeletal system and look to restore ‘Alignment’ through the use of joint manipulation, or Grade V high velocity thrusts, as they are also known, the ‘cracking’ of the joints.  However, now more of these professionals use a more holistic approach to their assessment and treatment and will also use techniques to work on the muscular system and give preventative exercises.

Chiropractor DorsetAs with any profession there is a broad spectrum of quality throughout each.  Many patients will have a poor experience with a clinician and unfortunately the rest of the profession have their reputation tarnished.  This is widely reported from patients who have seen NHS Physiotherapists, where time constraints and resources are limited and often they have been on a waiting list for their appointment for months.  They then may experience 3-4 sessions of no ‘hands-on’ treatment and are discharged with an exercise programme to do on their own.

This can be deemed, by some as a negative experience of Physiotherapy as they have been in pain and waited to get ‘hands-on’ treatment to relieve this and they may then leave still in pain and none the wiser on what their condition is or how it will progress.  However, this should not be seen as normal for a Physiotherapeutic approach and certainly privately when time and resources are not such a constraint then hopefully the experience should be more positive.  This is one struggle Private Physio’s have had to contend with that Chiropractors and Osteopaths haven’t as they have previously only been treating in the private sector.  The three Physio’s here at the East Cliff Physiotherapy Centre have all worked within the NHS system and so are well aware of the differences and strains put on the NHS staff to supply a quality service.  We would urge anyone who is reading this that may have had this experience to contact us to discuss our approach to your treatment and hopefully how we can help you.

Many will have heard of phrases like ‘poor alignment’, ‘your pelvis is out of position/alignment’, ‘your back is OUT’ etc… etc…

These are phrases that can be very disconcerting to the individual and actually can cause more problems in their management of their condition.
They have been developed over time as a very good marketing tool though, as the definition of the treatment has tended to be that ‘we will put your back, back in’ or ‘re-align your pelvis’ using manipulation which is the ‘cracking of the joint’.  If you experience a ‘cracking sound’ in your back it would then be deemed to be ‘OUT’ and the manipulation would ‘put it back in’ !!!!  This is not the case, the noise that is experienced is a release of pressure that can build within the structure of the joints in the back and lead to irritation.  A manipulation to the spine carried out by a professional should be targeted at the diagnosed level of irritation and is a high velocity thrust through the joints restricted range of movement to try to normalise the joint movement and restore normal function.

Do I need an x-ray to see if my back is ‘OUT’?
This is a common question asked as many practices may request that you have an x-ray before treatment starts.  An x-ray is one of many useful diagnostic tools if it is thought that there may be a possible fracture or a more serious underlying pathology.  X-ray’s are not something we want the body to be exposed to unless it is necessary and so routine x-rays to show spine alignment etc. in our view are an unnecessarily dangerous approach to treatment.  The question we always ask ourselves is; ‘how will an x-ray change my treatment approach’?  If we do not feel it will, we will not recommend it.  You should also not have to pay for x-rays, as they are available with referral via your GP, which we would arrange if needed.

‘I’ve been told my back is out of alignment’, can you put it back?
Again this is popular phrasing used by some clinicians which can be very misleading.  The spine presents in many various forms and to say that we can ‘normalise’ the spine is also misleading, as ‘what is normal?’.  Many of us will have natural altered curves in our spine, which may appear to be different to the perceived ‘normal’.  However, it can create more problems by trying to alter these even if this was possible.  Many will have heard of the term Scoliosis and some may have also been advised that various forms of treatment such as manipulation can rectify this.

A Scoliosis is a deviation of the spine away from midline and is seen in various degrees of severity.  The more severe cases are dealt with surgically.  The less severe are either undiagnosed or deemed manageable through more non-invasive treatments such as exercise, stretching and manual techniques to try and gain adequate muscular strength to prevent a worsening of the deviation.  However, it should not be advised that these structural changes could be reversed through manipulation.  Usually it is what we call a ‘postural scoliosis’, that can be treated with manipulation and other manual techniques, which is an apparent deviation of the spine away from midline as a result of the body’s natural guarding to prevent what it perceives as more damage occurring.

‘Why is your treatment more expensive than a chiropractors or osteopaths?’ Usually it is a difference in treatment time that is the reason for the price discrepancy.  If you look at paying £30 for 10-15 minutes with a chiropractor or osteopath on average, compared with £45 for 30 minutes then the pricing is more understandable. We would also suggest that you ask yourself if 10 minutes is enough time to evaluate your condition and treat it effectively.  We do not pretend to be the cheapest provider of Physiotherapy in the area but we also believe that the cheapest is not always the best and that word of mouth through recommendation is very important.  We believe that we offer a very high standard of professional diagnosis and treatment at an affordable price.

Please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail or telephone on 01202 296969 to ask us any further questions or to make an appointment.

Hopefully you may have more understanding now on the ‘Dorset’ difference (or lack of) between the Physiotherapist Dorset, Chiropractor Dorset & Osteopath Dorset!!

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