Rock, paper, scissors

Rock, paper, scissors

Sometimes choosing between a chiropractor, physiotherapist and osteopath for treatment of your pain or injury can seem like a game of rock, paper, scissors.  Who is best?  What treatment is most appropriate?  How do I choose?


The truth is that there are more similarities between the three professions than there are differences.  So, firstly, let’s look at how each profession describes themselves, how the are the same and how they differ, and how to go about choosing the right treatment for you.



According to the Chiropractic Association of Australia, a chiropractor offers ‘drug free modality of treatment concerned with the diagnosis, management and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system’.


Problems treated by Chiropractors include neck and back pain, headaches, sciatica, disc injuries, whiplash, sports injuries, pregnancy related problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis and the symptoms of a wide range of diseases of the nervous and musculoskeletal system.  Chiropractors use a range of modalities, including spinal adjustment, dry needling (acupuncture), heat treatment, soft tissue work, TENS treatment, ultrasound therapy, SmartTools and the prescription of exercises.




Physiotherapists ‘assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders’ according to the Physiotherapy Association of Australia.


Physiotherapists treat sports injuries, pregnancy related problems, and symptoms relating to strokes, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.  Physiotherapists employ the use of stretching, massage, hydrotherapy, ultrasound, TENS treatment, splints, braces, crutches and exercise prescription.





Osteopathy Australia describes Osteopathic treatment as ‘focus(ing) on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit’.


Conditions treated include back & neck pain, sciatica, shin splints, repetitive strain injuries, headaches and migraines and foot & heel problems.  Techniques used include myofascial release, craniosacral release, lymphatic drainage, massage and exercise prescription.



Same, Same but different…

Chiropractors, Physiotherapists and Osteopaths all undertake a minimum of four to five years at university, where they study evidence-based treatment.  All are regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency, and are overseen by a professional association.  So regardless of which profession you choose to go with, you can be assured that the practitioner is highly trained, and supervised.




How to Choose

As you can see there is, in a broad sense, very little difference between the three professions.  So how do you choose who to see?  The best way to determine who will work for you is to evaluate the practitioner themselves.  A few ideas:

  • ask friends and family if they have seen anyone they can recommend. Not much beats first had experience.
  • Look at the website for the practitioner/clinic. Does it seem professional and knowledgeable.
  • Does the practice offer a range of modalities. If so, they are more likely to be able to tailor a treatment plan that is ideal for you.
  • Evidence based. Make sure the practitioner uses evidence-based treatments.  Talk to the practitioner about why they are recommending certain things so you have an understanding not just of what, but why.
  • You need to feel a rapport or level of trust with your practitioner.  Sometimes it will be a long road to recovery, sometimes you might feel worse before you feel better.  So you need to have faith in the person you are working with.



If you are suffering from any of the conditions mentioned, give our Baulkham Hills clinic a call on 9639 7337 to see if our experienced practitioners can help you.

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