What are osteopathy and chiropractic?

Occasionally, these two disciplines are thought to serve only as a treatment to relieve back pain. However, both therapies are focused on maintaining the overall health of our body.

Osteopathy and Chiropractic are two treatments that are defined as global i.e. they are based on precise techniques that act deeply on our body in a broad sense.In other words, not only do they treat back pain or a particular injury, they both work the whole body together – albeit in different ways – to achieve an overall balance that will help solve specific problems.


Among all manual therapies, osteopathy stands out as a method of global diagnosis of the patient and as a rebalancing treatment. The word “osteopathy” comes from Latin and means “path” for general normalization.Consists of considering the human body as a functional whole in the first place.

The organism has the capacity for self-healing through self-regulation, thanks to its defence mechanisms. When there is a structural disorder – be it muscular, in the bones or even in internal organs – that can alter the normal functioning of the body, the function of osteopathy is to normalize the structure-function binomial so that the body regains normality.

The osteopath tries to rebalance the musculoskeletal system to eliminate pain. Therefore, osteopathy conceives that the balance between the different parts that make up the physical structure of the body (bones, muscles and soft tissues that support and communicate the different organs) is very important.

When there is some tension or blockage in this structure, it is reflected in a malfunction of the organs and the rest of the physiological systems on which health and well-being depend.

How an Osteopath Works

Thus, alterations or diseases occur in different planes and we should not remain in a single point, whether a muscle or an altered organ.

  • That is why osteopathy acts at different levels: on the superficial and deep fascias (tissues that function as regulators and communicators in the body), on the muscles or on the viscera.
  • In order to rebalance all the elements, the osteopath has different tools for therapeutic work. Basically they are applied with the hands, but there are now also external procedures to complement a good job.
  • Therefore, the osteopath has techniques for soft, superficial and muscular tissues, deep manipulations, lymphatic drainage or decongestive massages, manual, foot or facial reflexologies and pain inhibitory techniques such as acupressure.
  • You can also apply specific manipulations so that the muscles are stretched conveniently or the patient adopts certain postures, so that the muscles relax and reduce pain.
  • Finally, there is a part of osteopathy that works on the movement of the fluids and the meningeal covers of the central nervous system and which is called craniosacral osteopathy, and which has its own techniques.


Chiropractic is a therapy derived from osteopathy, but more focused on the treatment of the back. Most people only worry about the health of their spine when they suffer their first back pain. However, the spinal column fulfils as important a function as or more than that of supporting the body and connecting its lower and upper halves with the help of the muscles of the trunk.

Think that your spine circulates all the information that the brain needs to send and receive so that the body can function well. From the beating of the heart to breathing, walking or digesting: any vital function, any chemical reaction and any conscious or unconscious movement, no matter how minimal, require the nerve impulses that travel through the spinal cord, housed in the spine.

The consequences of a displaced vertebra

Keeping the spine healthy and flexible helps, of course, to avoid back pain. But also, and above all, it favors the balance of the nervous system and promotes health. The work of chiropractic, is based on this crucial role of the spine. Chiropractic restores communication between the nervous system and organs.

Other manual therapies, chiropractic does not massage tissues to eliminate tension:

  • can carry out his work without interference. When there is no interference in the nervous system, the innate intelligence of the body, the force that regulates unconscious functions and keeps us alive, can express itself optimally. This generates vitality and allows us to live to the maximum of our potential.
  • If a subluxation (displaced cervical vertebra) is produced, the communication between the brain and the body ceases to be fluid and problems can appear: from headaches or backaches to digestive discomfort and even asthma.

How Chiropractic Adjustment Works

The pressures applied to correct subluxations are called “adjustments”. They are usually executed with the hands, but sometimes instruments such as wedges, couches of moving parts or a percutor called an activator are used, which exerts a single fast and precise pressure.

  • The work focuses on the spine because it thus has a greater impact on the nervous system, although some chiropractors can also correct musculoskeletal disorders in the extremities.
  • Chiropractors advise not to wait for discomfort to check the spine, as subluxations usually do not cause symptoms at first, and the more time passes, the more difficult it is to correct them. The frequency with which “adjustments” are then received depends on each case and, if one wishes, one can continue to do so throughout one’s life as preventive care.
  • Chiropractic has very good results in headaches, lumbago and herniated discs. Although many other ailments for which it is useful are noted, the adjustments do not treat specific diseases, but correct subluxations so that the body does the rest.