Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and Osteopath – What’s the Difference?

Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and Osteopath – What’s the Difference?

by | Apr 28, 2022

While these three fields of healthcare are distinct from one another, 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 alleviate 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 affected area by applying pressure and adjusting the alignment of bones. Some chiropractors focus on other areas of the body, too.

Osteopaths focus mostly on skeletal and muscle-related issues, however, they also 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 – such as massage and joint manipulation – are normally used within treatments to resolve issues related to joints within the body, focussing on reducing pressure on the 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 more passive and repetitive techniques that stretch the muscles surrounding a joint, again to improve function.


Physiotherapists use a combination of hands-on treatments, including joint mobilisation (a gentler way to release the joints), massage, nerve mobilisations, and stretching incorporated with tailored exercise prescription to resolve pain and build muscle strength. Physiotherapists treat a wide variety of issues that 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 the 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. They tend to help patients with longer term injuries and illnesses to manage their pain and find ways to complete daily tasks without aggravating their 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 techniques of a chiropractor or osteopath, while others prefer the joint mobilisation, massage and exercise rehabilitation that a physiotherapist can provide.

This is a general overview of the differences between the three disciplines – however, they often overlap. You may have treatment from a physiotherapist who manipulates joints and muscles, and you may see a chiropractor or osteopath who provides rehabilitation exercises. The main thing to consider when seeking treatment is to find someone who takes the 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 your aches and pains so you can live a healthy active life, then we at Physio-logical can help you!

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


Ten Reasons to Drink Celery Juice Daily

Celery juice is one of the most beneficial beverages you can get, and incorporating it into your diet will help to keep you fighting- fit. Here are some reasons to start drinking celery juice daily: 1. It has an abundance of antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds...

Nine Reasons Why Dates Are Good For You

Dates have been a staple food in Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years, and have been considered by many to have incredible healing powers. There are so many varieties, with well over 30 kinds of dates that can be found around the world. They have often been...

Leg and Back Pain – Is it Sciatica?

Tips and exercises from award winning physio Natalie March from Physio-logical, a chartered physiotherapist based at Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle. We are excited to be able to share physiotherapy self-help exercises and advice in this and future editions of...

Social Media