Some of you may only be aware of physiotherapy through the NHS, which is often quite different to the treatment protocol offered by private physiotherapists. In fact in my experience from attending continued professional development courses that there are almost always a mixture of all three types of practitioners present on virtually all of the courses I have attended in the last 10 year period.
Osteopathy in its most traditional form is a manual therapy which aims to reduce pain and return patients back to full function. It works with the structure and function of the body and is based on the principle that well-being of the individual is based on the neuro-musculo-skeletal system (nerves, muscles, skeleton and connective tissue) all working harmoniously together.
Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation such as joint articulation and release (manipulation), stretching and a variety of soft tissue massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. They often provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.
All UK Osteopaths have completed a 4 year degree with rigorous clinical training after-which they have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GosC). 30 hours of continued professional development (CPD) is required from us to enable us to remain on the register.
Physiotherapy [like Osteopathy] encompasses a range of interventions, services and advice aimed at restoring, maintaining and improving people's function and movement and thereby maximizing the quality of their lives, as defined by the CSP. Therefore much like osteopaths Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.
It is certainly my belief that there are subtle differences between physiotherapy in the NHS (where perhaps the emphasis due to time constraints, funding, resources etc.) are more focused around rehabilitation through education and exercises programmes, thereby empowering their patients to participate in and achieve their own recovery. Physiotherapists in private practice have more time to spend with their patients and therefore can employ a range of other skills in addition to further improve a patient’s movement and function.
Physiotherapy is a degree-based healthcare profession Physiotherapists practising in the UK must be regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and complete CPD hours annually. All our physios here at the Centre are also registered with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).
Again, as with Osteopathy, Chiropractic is a healthcare profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. There is an emphasis on manual techniques including joint adjustment and/or manipulation with a typical focus on subluxations (misalignments of the spine). However they also address posture and lifestyle advice.
Chiropractic’s also study for 4 years, are regulated (by the General Chiropractic Council) and have to complete CPD hours each year.
There is a very short whistle stop tour through the three professions in a very simplistic and historic way. However, many of the manual techniques are now shared across the disciplines, as are the use of other techniques such as acupuncture in its various forms, from the traditional acupuncture perspective through to the very western dry needling type of acupuncture in its various guises.
If you're in need of treatment, it's really all about finding a practitioner and therapy and indeed their right skill set to best suit you. Sometimes that may come down to having a chat with a practitioner, looking online and ensuring that they are part of recognised regulatory body, getting recommendations from friends and family and, otherwise, going for an initial consultation.
I think the main point to take note of here is that each practitioner is an individual and is shaped by their own interests, experiences and the courses that they have undertaken since their undergraduate qualification. So it’s not only you - the patient as an individual, but the practitioner too and much less about the label that practitioner holds!
Written by Jane Morris, Osteopath