The care you receive sometimes includes osteopathic manipulation treatments, which may seem similar to chiropractic adjustments. However, there are some key differences between osteopathy and chiropractic care.
Both osteopaths and chiropractors are doctors, but their training differs. Both must attain an undergraduate degree and be accepted into a graduate program.
Doctors of osteopathy (DOs) follow similar training to medical doctors and attend four years of medical school, followed by internship, residency, and sometimes fellowships. About 25% of medical students are studying to become DOs, which means they undertake about 500 additional hours of training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).
Students training to become chiropractors enter programs at chiropractic colleges after obtaining bachelor’s degrees. These programs usually last 4-5 years. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) must spend about a year working with patients before licensing, but they don’t go through traditional internship and residency programs.
Both types of professionals must pass stringent exams and undergo continuing education throughout their careers in order to remain licensed and in practice.
There are also some important differences between how osteopaths and chiropractors typically practice. Chiropractors usually focus on chiropractic adjustments, particularly of the spine. These adjustments are to make sure your musculoskeletal system is properly aligned for optimal functioning.
Osteopaths are trained to examine your whole body first, and though they may suggest a treatment plan based primarily on OMT, they may choose more mainstream methods of treatment as well.
DOs simply have more options for treatment than DCs, largely because they are fully licensed physicians. DOs have a wider scope of training and can prescribe medications, whereas DCs have a narrower focus.
What it means for you
Both DCs and DOs tend to approach patient treatment with the idea that your body can heal itself in many instances, and that structure and function are intertwined. When it comes to your care, DOs have more options for treatment and are likely to consider your symptoms through a wider lens.
OMT may resemble chiropractic adjustments in that it’s a very hands-on approach, but there are differences there as well. Chiropractic adjustments are usually made to your bones and joints, primarily those of your spine. OMT may involve more stretching and soft tissue manipulation, depending on your specific problem.
Osteopathy is a type of holistic, or whole-body, care. Dr. Johnston approaches you and your treatment as the individual you are. He evaluates your situation and suggests treatment for your immediate symptoms as well as for your most optimal overall function. His treatment suggestions are based on extensive medical training and years of experience.