When we have to consult a specialist for a problem, it often happens that we wonder about the professional best equipped to help us. Not to mention that physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic are at first glance similar approaches and can help us to treat the same type of pathology. So, how do you choose between a physiotherapist, an osteopath or a chiropractor when it comes time to consult?
Definitions to identify the differences in approaches
Physiotherapy is used either from a preventive, maintenance or physical rehabilitation perspective. In Quebec, physiotherapists receive more than four years of training at a university, which allows them to diagnose, assess, treat and advise their patients on their musculoskeletal condition. The problems they deal with are numerous and so are their customers; thus, they are aimed at children, athletes, the elderly as well as people who have suffered accidents, to name a few.
Chiropractic is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal problems and their consequences on the nervous system of the body. Chiropractors have had a long university education corresponding to an undergraduate doctorate, which makes them specialists in muscle tissue as well as in the human skeleton. Their clientele is just as varied as that of physiotherapists; it is therefore advisable to inquire about the specialty of the professional with whom you wish to work.
Osteopathy is a natural medicine that seeks balance in the body, exploring the cause of the problems patients face and using manual therapy. Usually, osteopathy is used in addition to more traditional methods, or when the latter have not given the expected results. Unlike physiotherapists and chiropractors, osteopaths are not governed by a professional order, but rather by an association.
So how do you make a choice?
As we have seen, the differences between physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic reside mainly in the recommended approach to the problem as well as in the training received by the professional. To refer you to the health care professional most likely to help you, it is always best to see your doctor. Most of the specialists mentioned above work in concert with the general practitioner and other health professionals; they are therefore not in a vacuum. However, be aware that you generally do not need a referral ticket from your doctor to make an appointment, although this may sometimes be required by your insurance company in order to obtain reimbursement.
Finally, as in any profession, some specialists are better than others and each has its own specialty. You can therefore consult relatives and friends, or the directory of a professional order, to find references. You can also get information by contacting the specialized clinics, such as a Physiologic clinic, to find out more!