pain, back pain, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy

Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy; Which Should I Choose?

‘What is the difference between chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists?’ is a commonly asked question between those suffering from severe pain and seeking help from alternative healthcare professionals.

Let us introduce you to the differences and the indeed very important similarities of these three professions and their treatments.


Each of these three primary healthcare professions uses orthopaedic and neurological examination skills to map and diagnose their patients' emerging problems with their joints, bones, soft tissue, muscles or nerves. These examination techniques are vastly similar to those techniques used by other, traditional medical practitioners. Chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists will all teach their patients a variety of carefully chosen and useful exercises to be practiced in the comfort of their home, to support their pain-care between treatment sessions.

Before anyone can become a registered chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist, they will have to complete years of specialized study at specific universities teaching these alternative medical treatments. All three professions are regulated by law and practitioners have to be registered with their regulatory bodies. Therefore, any patients choosing to visit one of these professionals can be sure they will receive a standard of care and treatment.

Differences – Which one to choose?


Chiropractors mostly treat pain related problems – especially related to the back, limbs or spine – using manipulation and adjustment of the free joints. These specific adjustments are fast and strong manual techniques that take the joints being treated to the end of their available range of motion.

Patients with neuro-musculoskeletal disorders related to accidents, stress, inactivity, poor posture or specific illnesses, as well as patients with joints in the spine or limbs that are not moving correctly are highly recommended to visit a chiropractor.


Osteopathy is a form of drug-free, manual medicine as well. Traditionally, osteopathy believes that most health problems – physical and even certain mental ones – are related to problems in the musculoskeletal system, and to specific structural or functional dysfunctions of the body. Therefore osteopathic treatments aim to provide a complete, whole-person health to individuals by treating, massaging and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, soft and deep tissues. They generally apply less forceful manual techniques than chiropractors.

Although most patientsseek help from osteopaths with sore back or neck pain, other problems that can highly benefit from osteopathy include headaches, ankle and foot pain, sciatica, shin splints, asthma, whiplash, postural problems, chronic menstrual pain or depression. However, patients with broken bone or dislocation, bone cancer, a bone or joint infection, rheumatoid arthritis of the neck, or osteoporosis should strictly avoid osteopathic treatments. Read more about osteopathyhere.


Physiotherapy, just like osteopathy, takes a whole-person approach to health and wellbeing, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle too. Physiotherapists will help their patients affected by injury, illness or disability through movement, exercise, and manual therapy.

However, education and advice make crucial parts of physiotherapeutictreatments too. Those seeing physiotherapists can always expect general advice about things that can affect the daily life – such as posture and ways of prevent injuries, – about lifestyle or even about appropriate diet.

Physiotherapy is primarily aimed to treat long-term problems, such as chronic back pain or asthma, without long, expensive and often drug-based treatments. Physiotherapy is also proven to help preparing for childbirth, and it quickens the rehabilitation of sport-related injuries. Physiotherapy is the most common and favourable approach in sports medicine and is widely used to help rehabilitation after serious accidents and injuries. Read more about the most common conditions treated by physiotherapyhere.