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Should I see a Chiropractor or Osteopath?

11/05/21Should I see a  Chiropractor or Osteopath?


Chiropractors believe the structure and functionality of the spine plays a key role in the musculoskeletal and neurological system. They mainly treat back, neck, shoulder and joint pain by manipulating the spine and adjusting its alignments, focussing mainly on the joints. Only Chiropractors registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) can practice in the UK.



Osteopaths focus on the relationship between the musculoskeletal system and overall health. They move, stretch and massage muscles and joints to relieve pain or other symptoms. Osteopathy may be used to treat lower back pain, shoulder pain, arthritis or sports injuries. Only people registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) are allowed to practice as or call themselves osteopaths.


As with many professions, there can be a significant variance in the way that each type of professional operates within their practices. Therefore, a chiropractor may perform some treatments like an osteopath, and some osteopaths may limit their services to that of chiropractic care.

The primary difference between osteopathy and chiropractic treatment is that osteopaths diagnose and treat problems by assessing the function of the body as a whole, while chiropractors assess the effect the muscles, bones, and soft tissues have on the nervous system, often focusing on the spine.

Many patients that have been to both therapists say that chiropractors can practice like osteopaths and vice-versa. The osteopaths that act like chiropractors might not massage the soft tissues or may not have any focus on rehabilitation at all. They might only manipulate or adjust the joints. Likewise, some chiropractors use soft tissue massage and other rehabilitative methods while adjusting the joints.

An osteopath may not solely focus on the musculoskeletal system or symptoms. They may also help people with other systemic problems within the body, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, and digestive problems. While these problems may not seem related to the joints and spine, a pinched nerve in the neck can cause symptoms similar to that of a heart attack or stroke. Likewise, some people may find it harder to breathe because the body is tight and the muscles are stiff, especially those around the spine and back area.

In most cases, chiropractors use adjustments, which focus on restoring the joint’s functionality and position. It’s usually a specific movement or motion that ‘forces’ the body back into place. Osteopaths may use adjustments if they feel it necessary, but they have a broader approach and treat larger areas of the body.

Both professionals have undergraduate training and are there to care for your health above all else.

Whilst chiropractors and osteopaths both use gentle joint manipulation, massage and muscle stretching to relieve joint pain. Osteopaths may do more muscle and soft tissue work to manipulate the joints in the body, whereas a chiropractor will often focus on the spine.

Most people don’t realise that chiropractic therapy is derived from osteopathy. Osteopathy was invented in 1872 by Dr Andrew Taylor Still, and chiropractic therapy was invented in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer, a student of Dr Still. Therefore, there are plenty of similarities between the two professions. However, there are subtle differences between these two techniques, which means one option may be more suitable for your condition than the other.

The primary difference between chiropractors and osteopaths is that, while chiropractors focus primarily on the joints and spine, osteopaths are also concerned with the overall body and how it functions and acts as a whole. Osteopaths work holistically, which means they look at what contributing factors you might have that are causing the symptoms of pain or pinched nerves.

Regardless of whether you see a chiropractor or osteopath, you should expect them to take a case and medical history. They ask you questions about what hurts, when it happened, what you were doing, and more. They are also going to examine you, which might require you to move your arms, stand up straight, and more. They are also going to diagnose you with a particular disease or condition. You may get multiple diagnoses depending on your issues.

Once you are diagnosed correctly, both professionals are going to work out a treatment plan for your condition. This may include seeing the professional many times a week in the beginning. Once your body starts healing and working correctly without as many treatments, you can work on managing the pain and getting maintenance. Most chiropractors and osteopaths are also going to suggest that you do rehabilitative exercises, though some chiropractors do not offer this treatment option.

Many times, chiropractors and osteopaths will talk to you about your activities, lifestyle, or sport of choice. They can offer advice on how to prevent pain and issues while helping you improve your range of motion, flexibility and more.

It is worth being aware that both chiropractors and osteopaths are not widely available on the NHS. For further information and advice about whether seeing a chiropractor or osteopath would be beneficial for you, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

If however, this article has been helpful and you are now ready to book with a chiropractor or physiotherapist you can easily book online




Did you know?

Your GP can refer you to chiropractors because they are regulated by the General Chiropractic Council in the same way as medical doctors are regulated by the General Medical Council. Sadly, you will still need to pay for your treatment as chiropractic care is not provided within the NHS in this area of the country. If you disagree with this, let your GP know!

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