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Osteopath? Chiropractor? Or Physio?

Osteopathy – what differentiates it from Chiropractic or Physiotherapy?

I am often asked what the difference is between different manual therapies. I think it is very much a personal preference that is guided by the therapist you see.

Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy are all referred to as manual therapies and are considered Primary Health Care Systems. All practitioners are trained in anatomy, physiology, pathology, evaluation and diagnostic skills. Each profession is regulated and is required to complete a predetermined number of continuing professional development hours each year.

For further information on each profession read our FAQS


Osteopaths believe that the body has the capability to heal itself if it’s structure and function are working together. To achieve this osteopaths believe that a good blood supply is of up most importance, and will work to ensure this. Osteopaths use a whole body approach considering not only the presenting complaint, but also other factors which may have resulted in these symptoms.


Whilst chiropractors have a similar approach to osteopaths they believe that the health of the body is related to spinal health and that the neurological system manages this. Chiropractors may use radiography and radiology reports to form the basis of their treatment which is focused around the spinal column and the neurological system.


Physiotherapists tend to use less manual techniques than osteopaths and chiropractors. They will often prescribe a range of exercises to help with rehabilition. Physiotherapists often specialise in a particular area, for example sports injuries or postoperative rehabilitation.

How to choose between Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists?

In my experience, whilst there may be a difference in the under graduate training and the theoretical approaches used, I often see chiropractors and physiotherapists attending the same post graduate courses as I do. I believe that it is often the case that we cross over in terms of the skills, tools and knowledge that we can share with our patients.

Therefore my recommendation is to ask to speak to the therapist you are considering, have a brief discussion regarding your problems, and ask them how they would treat you. You need to trust whichever therapist you choose, and so long as the trust is in place, they build a therapeutic relationship with you,  and you feel comfortable and like the techniques they use, you will find a benefit from their treatment and advice.

Where appropriate Osteopaths will cross refer to other medical professionals when they think their patient is better suited to a different form of treatment, or where they feel that further opinions or investigations are needed.

If you would like to talk to one of our osteopaths to discuss your problems please call us or email us.