Difference B/W Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, and Osteopathy

What Is Physiotherapy?

It is widely believed that Physiotherapy techniques were used as far back as 460BC, when Hippocrates practiced manual therapy and massage. Physiotherapy has today evolved as a science evolved from evidence based research enabling physiotherapists to provide the most effective form of treatment to their patients.


Physiotherapy is basically the science of diagnosing and treating injuries or diseases by using mostly physical means. The main aim is to reduce pain and minimize dysfunction by using evidence based techniques. Physiotherapy encompasses all areas of the lifespan from infants to the elderly in areas such as musculoskeletal, orthopaedics, rheumatology, respiratory, neurology, sports injuries and women’s/men’s health.

What Is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine mostly concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. Some proponents, especially those in the field's early history, have claimed that vertebral subluxation in the spine affect general health via the nervous system, claims which are demonstrably false. The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, especially spinal manipulation therapy (SMT), manipulations of other joints and soft tissues. Some chiropractic practitioners and professional organizations, particularly those which still adhere to the "straight" chiropractic philosophy, find themselves at odds with mainstream medicine, primarily due to continued support for ideas such as "vertebral subluxation complex" and "innate intelligence", which have been largely deemed pseudoscientific.

What Is Oesteopathy?

Osteopathy is a type of alternative medicine that emphasizes manual readjustments, myofascial release and other physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones. Practitioners of osteopathy are referred to as osteopaths.Its name derives from Ancient Greek "bone" (ὀστέον) and "sensitive to" or "responding to"

While the UK's National Health Service says there is "limited evidence to suggest" that osteopathy "may be effective for some types of neck, shoulder or lower limb pain and recovery after hip or knee operations", it acknowledges that there is no evidence that osteopathy is effective as a treatment for health conditions "unrelated" to the bones and muscles, "such as headaches, migraines, painful periods, digestive disorders, depression and excessive crying in babies (colic)"; an explicit reference to the claims of osteopathic manipulative medicine. Others have concluded that osteopathic style manipulation "failed to produce compelling evidence" for efficacy in treating musculoskeletal pain.

Differences between a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath?

Caution before we proceed: when choosing a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist would briefly be as follows:

Make sure that the chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist has studied a three, four or five year full-time degree.

Use a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist who has been recommended by a friend or GP.

Don't persist with treatment if the chiropractic, osteopathy or physiotherapy given does not suit you.

  • Physiotherapy is a very broad-based training. Physiotherapists have to work with a diverse spectrum of conditions, ranging from breathing problems to post operative rehabilitation. Therefore, if you choose a physiotherapist for your back pain, we would suggest you choose a physiotherapist with a special interest in the field of back pain or spinal therapy. Traditionally, physiotherapists are less 'hands on' with their treatment of back pain, using more exercise-based approaches.
  • Chiropractors are trained to take and read x-rays which may be appropriate in cases such as trauma or pathology.
  • Osteopaths are not trained in radiography or radiology, their therapeutic approach has more similarities to that of a chiropractor than differences. If an Osteopath requires further imaging they can easily request x-rays or scans at an imaging centre.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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