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osteopathy vs physiotherapy

All You Need to Know About Osteopathy vs. Physiotherapy

As an NDIS participant, you are bound to receive a variety of support from the service providers and support workers. The government issues funds for participants that help them become independent and achieve their goals. Osteopathy vs physiotherapy is one of the common debates that participants have in their minds because they are unaware of the differences and similarities between the two. It requires some experience and knowledge to differentiate between these two supports funded under NDIS. 

What is NDIS?

NDIS stands for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is a disability program funded by the Australian government to support people with significant disabilities in leading independent lives. This program funds a wide range of support for each participant, including NDIS physiotherapy and daily assistance. Once the participant has registered themselves, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) conducts a meeting to analyze the participant’s condition. Their functional capacity assessment helps NDIA develop an effective NDIS plan for the participant that can help them achieve their goals.

Experienced NDIS participants are aware of how their plan works and what type of funds are available in each budget category. However, it can be challenging for new participants. It takes time to grasp the idea of NDIS, and there’s a lot in the program that you need to learn. Things gradually come into understanding, and if you have the right service provider, you can easily manage your NDIS plan efficiently in no time. Your service provider is responsible for helping you connect with the right amount of support, and as you move forward, they help you build independence and become more self-reliant.

Physiotherapy and Osteopathy

If you are someone who doesn’t have enough information on allied health professionals and services, you might have wondered what physiotherapy and osteopathy are. You might also ask where you should go to receive this support and who is supposed to provide this service. We will answer all these questions and more in this blog so you can easily differentiate between these two healthcare services.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a healthcare profession that requires professionals to complete 4-5 years of university training. These professionals are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This is a type of manual therapy that helps in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of chronic and acute conditions. Osteopaths help participants in dealing with muscle pain, bones, cramps, and various body problems. Their goal is to maintain a good balance in your body to manage your health better. Following are the conditions that osteopathy helps with.

  • Neck and back pain
  • Migraine
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neurological pain
  • Work and sporting injuries
  • Pregnancy pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain, etc.

Osteopaths implement a number of techniques to help to get rid of these mentioned problems. Their treatment plan includes stretching, soft tissue massage, manipulation, articulation of specific joints and muscles, muscle energy technique, and pain education. A good osteopath is able to provide all these services to their patients, and your service provider can help you find one.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is also an allied health profession registered under AHPRA. The professionals are responsible for completing 3 years of university training to get the degree. They help patients with physical pain like spinal injury, stroke, post-surgery, cardiac problems, etc. Some physiotherapists work in their personal clinics, while some prefer to work in hospitals with different patients. They are trained to diagnose different conditions and help them manage those problems. They also create a treatment plan that helps you maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. You might have to see a physiotherapist in the following conditions.

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Sports injuries
  • Hip, knee, and ankle pain
  • Sciatica
  • Postural issues
  • Arthritis, etc.

Physiotherapists also create reliable treatment plans for their patients that include exercises like muscle education, joint manipulation, electrotherapy, dry needling, pain education, soft tissue treatment, etc. 

Assessment Process

Once you have received your funding from NDIS, your service provider can start looking for a physiotherapist or an osteopath (depending on your need). In your first meeting with the professionals, both of them will need to analyze your condition first. They ask for a detailed clinical history and carry out assessments to check your injuries and pain themselves. The overall assessment process is quite similar because there are similarities in the treatment plans as well. However, there may be some differences according to your therapist’s experience and training.

To understand the assessment process and the thinking of both of these professions, here’s an example. If you go to an osteopath for examination and have a neck problem, they won’t be focusing on your neck alone. They may assess your pelvis and lower limbs to see whether there’s another reason for your pain or not. Osteopaths have a more holistic point of view as compared to physiotherapists. On the other hand, if you go to a physiotherapist with knee pain, they will focus on that specific area and might also evaluate it as a part of the functional movement.

Treatment Process

Similar to the assessment process, there are some similarities as well as differences between these professions. If we talk about physiotherapists, they use a combination of hands-on experience and create exercise-based treatment plans for the patients. Hands-on treatment is also called manual therapy, and it helps in increasing mobility and overall range of motion for the participants. You might never see a physiotherapist who doesn’t add exercise-based programs to your treatment plan. This is an essential part of their training, and it is very uncommon for them not to include hands-on exercises in the plan.

Osteopaths also use hands-on exercises to enhance your mobility and reduce pain; however, it is not their plan to carry out these exercises in between your treatment sessions. Again, it depends on the experience and training of each professional. Some osteopaths might consider manual therapy a good way to enhance mobility, while others might not allow you to do them in between your sessions.

Physiotherapists are mostly taught about exercises and rehabilitation during their undergraduate program. There’s more focus on this type of training in this profession, whereas osteopathy has a limitation. Osteopaths also learn about physical exercises and rehabilitation, but only in their postgraduate programs. This limitation in training makes osteopathy a step behind physiotherapy. A significant body of research has established now that exercises are an important part of any treatment plan for back conditions. Both physiotherapists and osteopaths implement physical exercises in their treatment plans to make sure that your pain is significantly reduced.

There’s no specific treatment plan that works for all participants as everyone has different needs, and it also varies depending on the experience of each osteopath and physiotherapist. Hence, you need to make sure you hire the right healthcare professional to help you with body pain.

How Are They Different?

If you look at the treatment of osteopathy and NDIS physiotherapy, you will see that there are many similarities between these two services. They are both supposed to increase mobility and reduce body pain for the participants. However, there are some minute differences between them that can confuse patients. While both of these services deal with anatomy and manual therapy, osteopathy has more hands-on experience with manual therapy. On the other hand, physiotherapy often includes modalities like hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, and ultrasound. Both of these professions are highly qualified with different and unique skill sets.

Another difference between the two professions is that osteopaths usually see a body as a whole and create treatment plans while keeping the well-being of the entire body in mind. Whereas physiotherapists tend to focus on one area only and create a treatment plan for the tissues and muscles of the affected part of the body. Osteopaths are also well-versed in the application of spinal and joint manipulation as compared to physiotherapists. Physiotherapists are strictly trained with a strong focus on exercise-based treatments. They constantly practice techniques to enhance their skill set.

It is safe to say that there are more similarities between these two professions than differences. The above-mentioned points made this very clear. However, it is still good to identify your needs and go to the right profession. Now that we have put together our knowledge about osteopathy vs physiotherapy, we hope that it answers all your questions about the two professions. The one that you choose ultimately comes down to your preference and how you aim to get treated.

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