What’s The Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

The difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor is that a chiropractor focuses on providing care for the spine, muscles, and joints. Meanwhile, an osteopath can provide care in several other areas of the body and prescribe medication.

If you were injured or suffer a painful condition, you have several options for treatment. Our chiropractors can provide a personalized approach to your chiropractic treatment to help alleviate your discomfort. Reach out to our office today to learn more about how we can help you work toward regaining your health without the use of drugs.

Primary Differences Between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath

What's The Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor

If you need medical treatment for a specific work-related injury or another type of injury to a particular part of the body, it may be smart to seek care from either an osteopath or a chiropractor.

Osteopaths Can Prescribe Medication

A doctor of osteopathic medicine needs a license to practice in the state of Florida, according to the University of Florida Health. Osteopaths can:

  • Write prescriptions for medications
  • Perform surgeries
  • Treat the entire body

Chiropractors also must hold a license to practice in Florida. However, the chiropractor doesn’t quite perform the same type of medical care as the osteopath. Chiropractors don’t prescribe medication, and they don’t do surgery. These doctors focus on finding alternative types of treatments for drugs.

They focus on spine injury treatment, although they can provide care to all parts of the body. Problems in the spine and joints can manifest themselves in almost any area of the body as weakness or pain.

Chiropractors Can Read X-Rays

If you suffered injuries in a car accident and you decided to seek chiropractic care, the chiropractor can take x-rays of the injuries to your body. The chiropractor also can interpret the results.

An osteopath does not have training in taking X-rays. If the osteopath requires X-rays or other types of scans, the patient will likely go to a medical center or imaging center for these scans. The osteopath would then receive the results from the medical center.

Chiropractors Work Toward Realignment of the Patient’s Spine

Using spinal manipulation techniques, the chiropractor attempts to place the spine into the proper alignment and to make sure it stays there. The chiropractor believes that spinal alignment plays a key role in allowing the entire body to remain healthy, while also helping the patient heal from a variety of injuries or everyday ailments and pain.

Osteopaths also focus on how the patient’s musculoskeletal system affects the performance and health of the entire body. The founding of osteopathy involved a core belief that all the body’s various systems have a relationship.

This relationship means that improvements in one area of the body could lead to improved health in other areas of the body. Osteopaths work to understand how to provide care that achieves the best results using the body’s interdependencies.

Chiropractors Focus on Holistic Treatments Without Drugs

One of the biggest differences in how an osteopath and a chiropractor practice medicine is in how they attempt to diagnose the problems their patients are having.

Because a chiropractor does not prescribe medication, the focus is on helping the body work better. The chiropractor thinks about the body’s functionality in terms of how it relates to the spine, the nervous system, and the muscular system.

An osteopath examines the body beyond the spine and muscular system. When a patient is reporting a certain problem, the osteopath may deploy several different treatment options, some of which are similar to chiropractic and some of which are similar to a general practitioner. Commonly, people will refer to osteopaths as taking a holistic approach to treating patients.

Slight Differences in Spinal Manipulation Techniques

Generally, a chiropractor attempts to move a joint or the spine into its normal alignment as part of the manipulation technique. This often can result in a cracking noise. Chiropractors will perform the manipulation at the office, and they may prescribe exercises for the patient to do at home to help improve their range of motion between office visits.

The osteopath generally uses stretching and massage techniques to try to improve the range of motion and functionality of a certain part of the body. Osteopath doctors also give patients work to do at home that aids in regaining function and range of motion.

Some chiropractors may choose to perform massage and stretching techniques, and some osteopaths may use a more aggressive manipulation technique that causes the joints to crack. It just depends on the doctor’s preferences and the types of injuries being treated.

Similarities Between Osteopaths and Chiropractors

Even though osteopathy vs. chiropractic treatments involve significant differences, they also have a few similarities. For example:

Both Require Medical Degrees

Both osteopaths and chiropractors must go to medical school and receive degrees before they’re allowed to practice medicine in Florida.

The doctors at Naples Community Injury Center, for example, have several decades of collective experience with chiropractic care, along with their medical degrees.

Both Chiropractors and Osteopaths Perform Spinal Manipulation

Joint and spinal adjustments are part of the course of treatment for both osteopaths and chiropractors. These adjustments provide relief from pain, while also helping patients improve their overall health.

Massage also can be part of the treatment of the patient for both of these types of doctors.

Benefits of Visiting an Osteopath or Chiropractor

Similarities Between Osteopaths and Chiropractors

You might be unsure whether your condition calls for a visit to a chiropractor or an osteopath. There are significant benefits to visiting both types of doctors. When it comes to an osteopath, some of the benefits include:

  • Non-invasive treatment: While an osteopath can prescribe medication, it isn’t always necessary. With osteopathic medicine, your body can begin healing naturally.
  • Improved sleep quality: An osteopath can help reduce pain, inflammation, and stress, which often cause poor sleep. Once your body is more comfortable, you’ll be able to sleep better.
  • Reduced nerve compression and better nervous system functioning: Your osteopath can prescribe stretches and exercises that relieve nerve discomfort.
  • Decreased risk of injury: Your osteopath can improve areas of weakness, instability, and issues with flexibility. Once your body becomes stronger and more flexible, your risk of injury or re-injury is lower.

If you make an appointment with a chiropractor, you can experience benefits such as:

  • Better athletic performance: Your chiropractor can help you improve your musculoskeletal function, spinal misalignments, and muscle tension. Improving these areas can help you perform better in physical activities like sports and exercise.
  • Improved posture: Consistently visiting a chiropractor can benefit your posture, especially if you work at a job that requires repetitive motions or consistent back use.
  • Relief from headaches: Many patients with headaches prefer to visit a chiropractor than take consistent pain medication. A chiropractor can ease tension in your spine and neck that causes headaches.
  • Better range of motion: Your chiropractor can teach you stretches and exercises that help you remain flexible.

A benefit of both types of doctors is that they can create custom treatment plans that address your specific needs. Your treatment plan can be updated at any time as your condition begins to improve.

How to Prepare for an Osteopathic or Chiropractic Appointment

While there are key differences between an osteopath and a chiropractor, preparing for your appointment with either type of doctor may look similar. As you get ready for your appointment, keep a few things in mind:

  • You’ll want to come prepared to discuss your medical history. If you are on any medications, have undergone any surgeries, or have any physical limitations, you should let your doctor know.
  • Be ready to talk about your symptoms. If you have a timeline regarding when your symptoms began, this may help your doctor diagnose you. While they will likely still conduct a physical examination, your doctor will want to know about how you feel.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Your doctor may perform physical manipulations or ask you to stretch and perform exercises. It’s easier to do this when your clothing is comfortable and flexible.
  • Be prepared to ask questions and voice your opinions. You know how your body feels better than anyone, so if you have any health concerns or questions, be sure to communicate with your doctor.

It can be nerve-wracking to visit a new doctor for the first time. However, rest assured that your health professional will employ treatment techniques that are aimed to help you feel better and as comfortable as possible.

Call Naples Community Injury Center for an Appointment Today

If you have questions about the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor, the team at the Naples Community Injury Center is ready to help you. We focus on chiropractic care, and we can put together a care plan for you.

Contact our doctors today to learn more about how we can help you find pain relief through chiropractic treatment.