Apr 4, 2016

Osteo Versus Chiro: What are the differences?

I see an Osteo quite regularly to help me stay in shape for my athletics training.  I've personally found it to be one of the most effective forms of prevention and treatment -  I've hobbled in there quite a few times and been able to walk out normally.  However, I often get asked what the difference between Chiro and Osteo is so I've asked my lovely sponsor Sally from Health Insurance Comparison to explain it to you today..

If you need treatment for your bones and joints, you may wonder which type of therapy will work best for you. Osteopathy, chiropractic and physiotherapy are often included on even basic Extras health insurance policies and while there is some common ground between them, they each have a different focus that can make them more relevant in particular situations.

There is a lot of confusion about what exactly is involved with both osteo and chiro and with the health insurance premium increases about to bite, it’s important to know whether they might benefit you and what to look for when choosing Extras cover that includes them.

How Osteo Works

Osteopaths look at the overall impact of musculoskeletal problems on other parts of the body, such as internal organs and the digestive system. This means that they may treat patients with problems that don’t seem to have an obvious connection to the spine and joints such as respiratory and digestive issues.

With osteo, the key is to encourage and maintain good structure of the body to help it to function to the best of its ability. It is based around the belief that if the musculoskeletal system is not aligned correctly, it will have a negative impact on other areas of the body and its ability to heal itself. It can help with neck and back pain, sciatica, arthritis, headaches, vertigo, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), tendonitis and sporting injuries but the connection between the musculoskeletal system and the rest of the body can make it beneficial for many other conditions.

Traditional osteo work tends to have a much stronger focus on soft tissue work compared to chiro, and can involve massaging, stretching, manipulating and adjusting problems areas.

How Chiro Works

Chiro also focuses on the musculoskeletal system and is concerned with the idea that problems in this area have an impact on the nervous system and prevent the body from being able to heal itself. Some chiropractors are solely concerned with issues relating to the spine (such as neck and back pain) but others will focus on a wider range of problems and conditions that affects the bones and joints.

Chiro often involves manual manipulation of the spine and may result in a series of “clicks” or “pops” as it is realigned. Other treatments that may be used in chiro can include relaxation therapies and rehabilitation exercises. Compared to osteos, chiropractors are more likely to use x rays to help them to diagnose issues.

How Physio Works

Physio can also be confused with osteo and chiro, and is often used to treat issues arising from illness, injury or disability. It aims to encourage the joints to move as well as they can through things like exercise, manual therapy and movement.

What to Think About with Osteo and Chiro Services

Because osteo and chiro are both out of hospital services, you’ll need Extras (also known as ancillary) health insurance to avoid having to pay for them out of your own pocket. They are generally available on even low level Extras cover with a lot of health funds but exactly what you’ll get varies from insurer to insurer.

Some of the things to think about include:

Annual Limits: The amount that you can claim on osteo and chiro services can be complicated by the fact that some health funds bundle them together in a combined annual limit. With some health funds, this can also include physio too. If you think that your family might need to access more than one of these services during the average year, it’s a good idea to shop around to compare annual limits across different health funds. You may also want to look at mid to top level Extras cover to get more generous annual limits.

Waiting Periods: Generally speaking, there is usually a 2 month waiting period for osteo and chiro services. This means that you’ll need to have held your Extras cover for at least a couple of months to claim.

Who Treats You: With some health funds, you can choose the osteopath or chiropractor that treats you but this isn’t always the case. Some health funds require you to use a chiropractor or osteopath that is recognised by them to be able to claim.

Hopefully this has given you some further insight into the differences between Chiro and Osteo.   Have you found you prefer one over the other? I'd love to hear.


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