What’s the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

If I had a penny for the amount of times I’ve been asked this question, I’d definitely be able to afford that car I’ve been eyeing.

The main difficulty with answering this question is that there are differences in the ways practitioners within both professions treat. Some osteopaths practice closer to the chiropractic way and some chiropractors practice more like an osteopath might. Without boring you with the history and philosophy (which I have been guilty of many many times), the main difference is that Chiropractors tend to focus on the spine and joints whereas Osteopaths look at the body as a whole; they take a broader approach (for example, if you are complaining of lower back pain s/he will address your lower back alongside with your upper back, hip, knee, ankle, some may even address your digestion).

Is there a difference in treatment? Yes, but like I said before every practitioner is different. Generally chiropractors use manipulations (some call it “adjustments”) to help restore joint position and function. Manipulations are also utilised by Osteopaths but they also take a broader approach so use other techniques like massage, joint mobilisation, etc. Both Chiropractors and Osteopaths give exercises and advice regarding your lifestyle and the duration of consultation and treatment is typically longer with an osteopath but then again, every clinic and practitioner is different.

Do they treat different conditions? They both treat all types of muscle, joint and ligament injuries, neck and back pain, headaches etc.

How about the cost? Very similar.

So there are more similarities than differences. What is important is YOU. As long as:

...Then you have found the right practitioner and the right clinic regardless of whether it’s an osteopath or a chiropractor.

I hope this helps.

If you have any questions or suggestions for the next post, feel free to ask below or email.


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Osteopath and Medical Acupuncturist. Based in Thurrock and Havering.

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