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Chiropractic – What is the difference?


As a Chiropractor I am often asked, “What is the difference between Chiropractic and Osteopathy?” Or, “What’s the difference between Chiropractic and Physiotherapy?”

To be honest there is great deal of common ground that all these professions occupy e.g. exercise advice, soft tissue work and rehab. What makes Chiropractic unique is that we are the only profession who focuses primarily on detecting and removing interference to nervous system.

This is profound because as you probably already understand, the nervous system controls every cell, every tissue and every organ in your body. When all the messages are getting to where they are supposed to be the body functions well. When there is interference to these messages then your body’s function is compromised.

The next question is usually, “How and where does this interference take place?”

Most of the time, this interference takes place at the spine. The reason for this is because a large portion of the central nervous system is housed in the spine. Mostly the spine does a great job of protecting the spine. However, the spine has a conflicting role during every day life. It has to be both stable and flexible, often simultaneously. This conflict makes it vulnerable to injury.

When the joints in the spine do get injured, the body will protect that joint. This is done by creating muscle spasm around the joint to splint it. The reason this takes place is to immobilise the injury so it has a chance to heal – like strapping a sprained ankle. Thus the effected area of the spine gets stiff or “stuck”.

Normal movement in the spine is essential for normal sensory information (proprioception) travelling to the brain. When 2 spinal bones (vertebrae) get stuck, this sensory input to the brain is decreased. Inflammation sets in due to decreased circulation which causes a toxic input into the nervous system (nociception). Decreased proprioception + increased nociception = nerve interference.

The brain can only respond to the information it’s given. In this way it is like a processor, similar to a computer. If the information the brain receives is altered through nerve interference, its output is altered.

Restoring proper movement to spinal bones helps return the balance between the good and bad inputs. This normalises the brain’s output. The chiropractors achieve this through various specific techniques, called ‘An Adjustment’, adapted to each individual’s body type and age.

Normal muscle control returns to the body, making it stronger and less injury prone. Runners love this as it means more time training and less time on the treatment table