Chiropractor or Osteopath for neck pain?

It’s terrible to wake up with neck pain and even worse when having to face a whole working day with it. When it seems like the pain will never go away, people start following any advice, reasonable or not. There are plenty of different therapies for spinal pain and neck pain in the market, and all of them claim to be the best option for a given set of chiropractor osteopath

To start with, we have a pharmacological approach, physical exercise, and even alternative medicine. Spinal manipulation by chiropractors and osteopathy are also widely used options. Moreover, according to some studies, plenty of their patients report a very high satisfaction rate, sometimes even higher than that found with primary care physicians. After reading this article, you will understand the solutions chiropractors and osteopaths offer for the treatment of neck pain so you can make a learned choice the next time you face this condition.


Joint Pain: The chiropractor’s approach

Chiropractic care is always concerned about your musculoskeletal system and the correct alignment of your spine. They always use spinal manipulation techniques to reach and fix spinal misalignments, subluxations, and several problems that might be causing pain.

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According to a chiropractor, the alignment of your spine is essential to your whole functioning because that’s where your central nervous system sends signals to the rest of the body. Evidently, if you are trying to fix neck pain, they will also perform exercises around this area to liberate stress and correct a misalignment that’s behind your symptoms.

As such, a chiropractor seems to be a reliable option whenever you have a structural or anatomic problem in your neck or spine. They go straight to the source and fix it. However, there’s also a word of caution you need to consider because chiropractic techniques follow a structural rationale, but it is still a hypothetical technique. Why do you need to visit a Chiropractor?

They claim to relieve pain by repositioning spinal discs, reducing muscle tension, restoring the mobility of facet joints, and other explanations that seem reasonable but have not gained a consistent scientific approval. While it is true that many people alleviate their neck pain with chiropractors, it is also true there’s no current agreement on how safe spinal manipulation really is.

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However, even if we can find scientific literature with side effects, chiropractic care rarely results in more than minor events, and there are very few reports of spinal cord injury. Moreover, the major part of cases of severe adverse effects are related to spinal manipulation in the thoracic area, not in the neck. So, we can say chiropractic care is a relatively safe and effective way to improve your neck pain, even though it’s still considered a hypothetical healing technique.


What about osteopathy for neck pain?

Osteopathic care sometimes uses spinal manipulation as well, but it is not always the primary basis of their healing technique. Instead, they tend to rely on living a healthy lifestyle and adopting a positive approach towards life. osteopathy for neck painOsteopaths do not enclose all types of ailments as a result of subluxations and spinal misalignments. Instead, they recognize there are plenty of sources of pain and disease, and that’s where they focus their treatment.

Osteopaths are also medical doctors and would prescribe medications and perform surgery if that’s what you need. They will also rely on manipulation techniques and exercises if that will be effective to improve your neck pain.

There’s a branch of osteopathic medicine called osteopathic manipulative treatment, which has become very helpful in the treatment of neck pain. This approach involves the use of certain postures, stretching and resistance exercises, or gentle pressure in determined points to improve certain conditions, especially those related to the musculoskeletal system. They are different from spinal manipulation because they are usually gentle, does not require much force or resistance, and sometimes they can be applied by the patients themselves after some careful guidance by the osteopath. There can be some treatment side effects when using osteopaths.

When analyzing the effectiveness of osteopathic treatment, a recent study showed that one hour after their session, the patients experienced pain relief that would be comparable to that experienced by patients who received a dose of intramuscular ketorolac tromethamine, an effective analgesic to treat musculoskeletal pain.

There are still side effects when it comes to osteopathic treatment, but they tend to be more limited because they do not always rely on spinal manipulation, and whenever they do, they try to achieve muscle relaxation first to reduce the force they need to apply to the joints.


Which one is best for Joint Pain?

Chiropractors and osteopaths are both effective in treating neck pain and many other types of structural pain. It is directly within the field of chiropractors, and under the scope of osteopaths to understand and treat the source of neck pain successfully. It also depends on your practitioner, because some of them might turn out to be more skilled or gentle than others. However, both approaches can do the work pretty well.which one best neck pain


Having said that, it is also true that choosing an osteopath to treat neck pain might be the best choice if you’re looking for a gentle approach and some guidance over exercises you can do yourself in the comfort of your home. According to a recent review, even home exercises can be useful to treat neck pain if they are performed after a few instructional sessions along with your osteopath.





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Martin, B. I., Gerkovich, M. M., Deyo, R. A., Sherman, K. J., Cherkin, D. C., Lind, B. K., … & Lafferty, W. E. (2012). The association of complementary and alternative medicine use and health care expenditures for back and neck problems. Medical care, 50(12), 1029.

McReynolds, T. M., & Sheridan, B. J. (2005). Intramuscular ketorolac versus osteopathic manipulative treatment in the management of acute neck pain in the emergency department: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 105(2), 57.Steel, A., Sundberg, T., Reid, R., Ward, L., Bishop, F. L., Leach, M., … & Adams, J. (2017). Osteopathic manipulative treatment: a systematic review and critical appraisal of comparative effectiveness and health economics research. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 27, 165-175.

Meeker, W. C., & Haldeman, S. (2002). Chiropractic: a profession at the crossroads of mainstream and alternative medicine. Annals of internal medicine, 136(3), 216-227.

Nielsen, S. M., Tarp, S., Christensen, R., Bliddal, H., Klokker, L., & Henriksen, M. (2017). The risk associated with spinal manipulation: an overview of reviews. Systematic reviews, 6(1), 64.

Pickar, J. G. (2002). Neurophysiological effects of spinal manipulation. The Spine Journal, 2(5), 357-371.


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