Osteopathy, Physiotherapy & Chiropractic: A Comparison

If you’ve become a victim of back or neck pain, it can be difficult to know who you should turn to. Many people simply don’t understand the differences between various types of treatment available to them and have various misconceptions which can make the first step on your road to recovery somewhat puzzling.


In light of this, we’ve taken the time to explain and highlight the main contrasts between osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic in our final blog of the month…


So, how do osteopathy, physiotherapy & chiropractic differ?

Well, all three types of treatment do actually have something in common; they use non-invasive, drug-free, manual techniques. Techniques which have the ultimate objective of improving a patient’s overall physical wellbeing. Past that though, these treatments do have some core differences…




Physiotherapy is fundamentally an exercise-based form of treatment. Its primary goal is to enable function and movement throughout the body and it's frequently utilised in the rehabilitation of an individual following surgery, sickness or other types of injury. Physiotherapy puts a great deal of emphasis on exercise- this is used to re-establish muscular function and strength, enhance physical capacity and avoid future problems.

One of the main ways that it differs to osteopathy is the way in which conditions are diagnosed. Physiotherapists use more traditional approaches of compartmentalising problems and pain. Though osteopaths take the direct problem into consideration, we also consider the broader picture to help identify factors that initially helped cause the pain. We refer to this as an holistic approach which is at the centre of osteopathy and the outlook and treatment which we take and practise.




So, chiropractic identifies and treats problems which affect the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves and always focuses on the spine. Chiropractic involves the manipulation of specific areas of the body which is designed to free joints in the spine. Most chiropractors treat issues specifically related to the spine and neck however they will sometimes provide treatment for other closely-related issues as well.

There are similarities between osteopathy and chiropractic, however there are a core differences too. Osteopaths will apply their own methods of diagnosis and treatment to each individual patient. We also typically use more gentle, slower, stretching techniques in addition to more direct methods. Perhaps the most fundamental difference that a patient would notice is the length of the treatment and the techniques used. Because chiropractors predominantly manipulate joints (i.e. clicking), treatment times tend to be less at approximately 10 to 15 minutes in length in comparison to 30-40 minutes for a follow up appointment with an osteopath.


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Osteopaths work to ensure that the joints, muscles, ligaments and tissues throughout the body are able to function smoothly together in harmony in order to treat conditions. Physical manipulation, massage and stretching are combined and implemented together to improve patient mobility while also enhancing balance and overall function throughout the body. This works to remove tension within the muscles, increase blood supply and boost healing, ultimately achieving improvements in overall health and relief from pain.

There you have it! As you can now hopefully see, osteopathy, physiotherapy & chiropractic have a number of things in common. Despite that, they also differ in many ways and it’s important to ensure that you seek out the best type of treatment for your problem.


If you’d like to find out more about our treatments and how we may be able to help you with your condition, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01722 512 043. 



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