Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and Osteopath, What’s the difference?

Jan 21, 2022

Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and Osteopath, What’s the difference?

These three fields of healthcare show some similarities and differences, all three disciplines treat aches, pains and stiffness within your body.  When seeing any of these professionals you as the patient will receive tailored manual therapy treatments based on your presenting problem in order to elevate symptoms of pain and discomfort.   

Chiropractors & Osteopaths

Chiropractors will tend to focus on central issues relating to the spine. Typical treatments come in the form of manipulation of joints within the effected area through applying pressure and adjusting the alignment of bones within joints by combining movement with manipulation. Some do focus on other area of the body too.

Osteopaths focus mostly on skeletal and muscle related issues however they treat a wider range of issues around the body focusing not only on joint manipulation and alignment but also how the body moves overall. A combination of hands-on techniques are normally used within treatments such as massage and joint manipulation to resolve issues related to joints within the body with the focus to reduce pressure on surrounding nerves.  

Both Chiropractors and Osteopaths use treatments that involve the moving of a person’s body outside its usual range of motion. This can sometimes result in a ‘joint release’ or ‘joint crack’. A Chiropractor will do this by swiftly moving a joint out of its usual range of motion (for a brief moment) to restore better function. An Osteopath will usually employ a more passive and repetitive technique that stretch the muscles surrounding a joint, again to improve function.



Use a combination of hands-on treatments; including joint mobilisation, (gentler way to release the joints), massage, nerve mobilisations, stretching incorporated with tailored exercise prescription to resolve pain and build muscle strength. Physiotherapists treat a wide variety of issues which could be related to bone, muscles or nerves. Compared to chiropractors and osteopaths, there is more emphasis on the patient performing exercises in order to promote reduction of pain and to strengthen the area. The stronger your muscles are the more supported your joints are, which reduces pain. Physiotherapists will provide advice on daily function as well as educating the patient about their diagnosis whilst helping patients with longer term injuries and illnesses to manage their pain and find ways to complete daily tasks without aggravating there pain. Physiotherapists also treat nerves using a variety of mobilisation techniques as well as specific exercises.

To summarise chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists can all treat injuries, aches and pains some people prefer the manipulation from a chiropractor or osteopath while others prefer the joint mobilisation, massage and exercise rehabilitation from a physiotherapist.

This is a general overview of the differences however you may have treatment from a physiotherapist who manipulates and you may see a chiropractor or osteopath who provides you with rehabilitation exercises.

The main thing when seeking treatment is you find someone who takes time to listen, who you trust and believe will be able to help you.

If you would like to see someone who takes time to listen and works with you using hands on treatments and exercises to ease you aches and pains so you can live a healthy active life then at Physio-logical we can help you.

If you are struggling with an injury, ache, pain or stillness for more information or to book an appointment please call 02394 350270 or email

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