Osteopath vs Chiropractor: Which is Right for You?

by | Jun 30, 2023 | Blogs | 0 comments

Osteopathics or Chiropractors, we have immense respect for all practitioners out there… The frequently asked question we get to hear is, what is the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor? Or Osteopath vs chiropractor, which one is right for me? While sharing some similarities, these practices have distinct origins and approach to patient treatment. 

What Is a Chiropractor? 

Whenever you are feeling discomfort or seeking relief from pain, chiropractors stand at the forefront, armed with comprehensive training and a keen interest in how our bodies function. They view the world through the lens of the spinal and muscular systems, considering them as primary gateways to well-being.

Through spine and joint adjustments, skilful manipulation, therapeutic massages, and rehabilitative exercises, chiropractors perform their mastery to help patients heal. But their approach doesn’t stop there; they go beyond the treatment room.

What is an Osteopath?

Osteopaths, like their chiropractic fellows, possess a deep understanding of the human body. However, their focus extends far beyond the domains of muscles and spines. They love to crack the hidden secrets of the entire body, seeking root causes that might be responsible for a patient’s ailments.

With a comprehensive skill of massage techniques, physical therapy, and body adjustments, they venture into the world of osteopathic treatment. They believe that deformations in the skeletal structure, which lead to interference with nerves and blood vessels, lie at the root of many diseases. Thus, osteopaths adopt a holistic philosophy, addressing the whole person in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.

Osteopath vs Chiropractor; Shared Grounds

Both chiropractors and osteopaths share some common ground when it comes to physical treatments – despite having different approaches. 

Chiropractors swiftly move joints beyond their usual range of motion, aiming for a brief moment of joint “release” or “crack” to restore optimal function.

On the other hand, osteopaths employ a more gentle yet repetitive technique, focusing on stretching the muscles surrounding a joint to enhance its performance.

Fun fact: The line between an osteopath’s and a chiropractor’s techniques can blur, as chiropractors may utilise gentle mobilisation when needed, while osteopaths might employ more forceful manipulation when indicated.

When it comes to optimal overall health, both osteopaths and chiropractors emphasise the importance of correct spinal alignment. They share the belief that a healthy and properly aligned spine can enhance central nervous system function and promote better blood flow throughout the body. When comparing osteopaths vs chiropractors, both believe in empowering patients to take charge of their healing journey. 

Origins of Osteopaths & Chiropractors

In 1895, Daniel David Palmer performed the first chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard, a partially deaf janitor. Palmer’s keen observation of misaligned vertebrae led to this groundbreaking moment. Inspired by his findings, Palmer established the first chiropractic school two years later. The term “chiropractic” was coined by Reverend Samuel H. Weed, combining the Greek words for “hand” and “doing.” 

Today, rigorous education at esteemed institutions prepares aspiring chiropractors and osteopaths to provide alternative therapies for holistic healing.

Whereas Osteopathy, derived from the Greek words for “bone” and “pain, suffering,” is an alternative medical system that emphasises physical manipulation of the body’s muscles and bones. While some aspects of osteopathy, such as craniosacral therapy, have been criticised as pseudoscience, osteopathic manipulation remains a core set of techniques in this field.

Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) developed the ideology behind osteopathy, proposing the concept of a “myofascial continuity” that connects all parts of the body. 

By manipulating bones and muscles, Osteopaths diagnose and treat somatic dysfunctions, previously referred to as “osteopathic lesions,”. These techniques form the foundation of osteopathy and are commonly used to address back pain. 

The Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree has evolved into a medical degree, no longer solely associated with non-medical osteopathy.

What to Expect in an Appointment with an Osteopath:

  • Thorough Assessment
  • Physical Examination
  • Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
  • Manual Techniques such as soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilisation, and muscle stretching, to improve musculoskeletal function and promote healing.
  • Patient Education on posture, ergonomics, exercises, and lifestyle modifications.
  • Follow-Up Visits to track progress.

What to Expect in an Appointment with a Chiropractor:

  • Initial Consultation
  • Physical Examination
  • Diagnostic Imaging such as X-rays to obtain a clearer picture of your spine and identify any underlying issues.
  • Chiropractic Adjustments
  • Additional Therapies such as massage, stretching, electrical stimulation, or heat/cold therapy.
  • Treatment Plan and Recommendations
  • Chiropractic care often involves multiple sessions.

Osteopath Vs Chiropractor; Which One Is Right for Me?

Chiropractic and osteopathy have weathered storms throughout history. Can you believe chiropractors were actually thrown in jail for practising without a medical licence? The tables turned in 1987 when the AMA was caught in a conspiratorial web against chiropractors. Today, both fields have gained mainstream recognition and collaboration in the healthcare sector. Here’s the twist: Chiropractors primarily rely on hands-on techniques and cannot prescribe meds. Osteopaths, on the other hand (pun intended), with their medical degrees, have the power to prescribe when needed. Remember, different rules in different places!

When it comes to deciding between osteopath and chiropractor, Osteopath Sydney, led by Phil Austin, offers a compassionate and comprehensive approach to musculoskeletal care. With their expertise and personalised treatment plans, they focus on promoting overall well-being and restoring your quality of life. Choosing osteopathy at Osteopath Sydney means embracing a gentle and holistic approach that considers your unique needs and seeks to provide long-term relief and improved mobility.

Phil Austin:

Osteopath Sydney

I’ve worked as an osteopath for over 25 years and have worked in the UK, New Zealand, Sweden and currently Australia. Through working as a researcher, I’ve developed a patient-centered approach that considers, physical, psychological, social and spiritual factors, all of which affect how people think and react to painful situations.


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