As you dig into alternative and complementary medicine, terms and definitions can be confusing. Do osteopaths and chiropractors both adjust the spine…or not? In this post, we will explain the similarities and differences of these two fields. We also talked to Noelle about her journey to find which specialty suited her needs, and included a video of Dr. Ryan showing what he’s talking about!
Osteopathic Manipulation & Chiropractic Adjustment
Osteopaths and chiropractors are both considered alternative medicine, interested promoting in natural health and wellness. The main difference between an osteopathic manipulation and a chiropractic adjustment is the intent and purpose behind them. While both deal with the bones, osteopaths use generalized movement, while chiropractors use specific motions to move a bone to a specific spot.
For example, an osteopath may use a side posture manipulation that resembles positioning used in chiropractic. The counterstrain of twisting the shoulder and knee may move vertebrae in a way to where they should be. The doctor may also use massage, soft tissue mobilization, or myofascial therapy on the patient’s muscles.
Osteopaths are trained and recognized as primary care physicians, with a focus on whole body well-being.
Chiropractors focus on the skeletal system and its connection to the nervous system. During a chiropractic adjustment, the doctor isolates the vertebra that is misaligned and drives that specific bone back into place.
The intent is to improve the nervous system function that was being reduced by the pressure of bone interference. Since all the nerves pass through the spinal cord out to the body, misalignment in the spine affects the efficiency of the entire nervous system and every other system of the body.
This is why specific, scientific chiropractic has been proven to improve the general function and quality of life.
Why is it important to know the difference?
When choosing your healthcare provider, it’s vital to understand their specialty and what it brings to your particular need. There’s a wide range of medical knowledge and skills that can help you in different ways: from brain surgery to massage! Take the time to research which field is right for you in your situation.
A Real Example of Osteopathic Care vs Chiropractic care
Noelle, 26-year old mother of two, was suffering from severe upper-back pain. The inflammation under her shoulder blades made lifting her baby difficult and even sneezing was so painful that she’d hold her neck each time. Her family practice physician recommended 12 sessions of physical therapy, especially since Noelle couldn’t take anti-inflammatories while nursing.
The PT made Noelle feel better for a day or two. But the inflammation at the source persisted. She ached all day and slept restlessly at night.
The MD took x-rays and declared there was nothing seriously wrong with Noelle. However, the young mom wasn’t done looking for answers and got a referral to an osteopathic doctor.
The osteopathic manipulation and massage felt wonderful. Noelle felt relaxed and refreshed. But by the next week, she was back at the osteopath because she was still in pain. However, two manipulations were all that was considered necessary.
Noelle was beginning to believe she’d have to resign herself to reduced mobility and pain forever. However, her family moved and going to a chiropractor became an option. His evaluation of her x-rays told a different story and revealed the source of her pain was subluxated vertebrae.
Her care plan included adjustments twice a week for several weeks, gently and firmly moving the bones back into place. As Noelle’s body began to hold the adjustment better, she moved once per week adjustments.
Then one day, she realized that she had sneezed without pain. She was sleeping better. Her neck had full-range of motion. She was lifting and playing with her children, expressing life to the fullest once more.
We believe that the more you learn about how to care for your body, the more you can free it to heal innately. Look through our categories to see more blog posts on topics for you and your family to live well. Comment or contact us if you want more information or have any questions.
Watch this video interview with Dr. Ryan Dopps DC, a chiropractor in Wichita KS, and Jenna Quentin from Adjust Your Media. See an example of the difference between manipulating and adjusting!
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