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Who is the best to see for my pain?

Updated: Mar 4

‘Who should I see for my pain?


– Most people in pain.


A lot of friends ask me this question when I talk about what I do as an Osteopath. Only the other day a close friend couldn’t quite differentiate what I do from a Physiotherapist. It can be a little frustrating that they don’t know what I do, as close friends, but should this even matter...?


Who am I?


My name is Nathan and I am an Osteopath.


Put plainly, I help people of all ages and backgrounds to recover from their aches and pains. I work on the body using manual therapy, exercise prescription and lifestyle advice. I treat bodies, but I work with people

Who should I see?


Many qualified health professionals train to treat musculoskeletal problems.


This includes anything related to what helps you move: bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, brain etc. They are regulated by a governing body which is the boring but important part for you to know. It means that people who are not qualified cannot practice. It is to protect you! You can only call yourself an Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist if you are qualified and registered.


General Chiropractic Council (GCC) - https://www.gcc-uk.org/


General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) - https://www.osteopathy.org.uk/home/


Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) - http://www.hcpc-uk.co.uk/


Some Physios, Chiros and Osteopaths may have a particular area of interest or specialism. You may wish to seek them out, but all will have training about all the areas of the body and the most common presentations.


So I can see any of these professionals, but what’s the difference and who is better?


Now that you know you can see a Physiotherapist, a Chiropractor or an Osteopath for the same problem, which one is better and what’s the difference?


This question I used to think was quite difficult to explain and has changed and developed the more I tell it. You should note that being an Osteopath, I cannot help any unconscious bias to my answer! But over the years of thinking about it and meeting many other health professionals I have come to this realisation:


The differences don’t matter. There are more similarities than differences.


The question you should ask yourself as a patient is this:


‘Do I feel that this person is going to do right by me?’





Mike James The Endurance Physio discussed this topic in a video putting it simply as ‘there are only 2 types of practitioner: Good or bad, regardless of their background or training’.


So it doesn’t matter what profession you see, it matters who you see. I’d rather you see a good Physiotherapist than a bad Osteopath!


You might then ask what is good and what is bad?


Mike’s video covers that too and it comes down to something I believe in. A good practitioner provides you with advice, support and exercise alongside their usual treatment to help you. If they do not provide this but need you to return for regular treatments long-term, they are not providing everything you need to get better.


Research is always developing my practice and often supports what I already do:

  • Good listening skills.

  • Empowering you to look after yourself.

  • Providing any necessary support.

  • Getting you moving sooner rather than later, rather than demonising any exercise you do do!

All this comes as standard in my practice supported by my manual/hands-on treatment approach.


What should I expect when I see a good Musculoskeletal professional?


During your first visit the following should happen:

  • They will ask questions about your problem. Taking time to listen.

  • Get to know what you do on a day-to-day basis.

  • Discuss your medical history and afflictions you may be suffering from.

  • Conduct an assessment to help rule out the horrible stuff.

  • Verify what they think is happening from the discussion.

  • Discuss with you their initial thoughts of what is wrong (working diagnosis) and how long it will usually take to improve (prognosis).

  • They will provide you with treatment, advice and/or exercises and will be open to your questions.

Don’t be annoyed if a practitioner says ‘I don’t know’ to one of your questions. The good ones will most likely research it later and find out for you.


If they are not the right person for the job, they will refer you to someone who is.


They won’t expect you to pay in advance for many sessions unless it is necessary. Follow-up sessions are part-and-parcel of seeking help for musculoskeletal disorders. They take time to recover and your practitioner will be there to support you through it.


Do you think that I could be the right who for you and your musculoskeletal pain? If so, get in touch via my Facebook group: Nathan Bull Osteopathy or call me on 07709 119 120 to arrange an appointment.

Thanks for reading.


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