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Differences Between Chiropractors and Osteopaths

Low Back Pain
  • Both are similar regulated healthcare professions who treat patients with back, neck and joint pain using manual therapy. But here are some of the general key differences.


Osteopathy was invented by Dr Andrew Taylor Still. Chiropractic was refined by Dr Andrew Taylor Still’s student, Daniel David Palmer.


Osteopaths tend to focus on musculoskeletal issues and its impact on overall health, whereas Chiropractors look more at the neurological system. Chiropractors believe that the structure of the spine and how well it functions can affect the musculoskeletal and neurological system. Osteopaths aim to treat the body as a whole as they believe that everything is connected

Treatment for Back and Shoulder Pain

Chiropractors are typically more focused on the joints, spine and its connection to the nervous system, whereas Osteopaths are more concerned with whole body and how one problematic part can have a knock-on effect to another. For Chiropractors, the main aim is to achieve alignment of the spine. Osteopaths look at the broader skeletal system and treat areas of the body which aren’t necessarily directly connected to the spine to treat any underlying cause.


Chiropractors tend to use more adjustments to realign joints and improve their function. Osteopaths can use similar techniques if necessary, but not always as a first option as they have a broader approach to treating larger areas of the body, and osteopathic treatment typically involves more massage, gentle joint mobilisation and stretching techniques to improve mobility.

Back Pain Can Affect Anyone

Chiropractors traditionally use more x-rays and MRI scans to find problem areas in the spine, whereas osteopaths rely more on physical examination, touch and clinical assessment. Osteopaths tend to spend more time with their patients than Chiropractors as they cover more parts of the body, however Chiropractors tend to see their patients more frequently as spinal adjustments are quicker to carry out. If you go to an osteopath and say “I have pain here” it is unlikely they will treat just that one area.


It's not a case of one profession being better than the other, but the two professions approach the same problem from a different perspective. Whoever you choose to go and see, they will do the best they can for you.

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