What is Osteopathy?

Osteopaths diagnose and treat patients with a range of health issues, using movement, massage and stretching of the muscles and joints to treat and prevent problems. This helps relieve muscle tension, increases joint mobility, reduces pain and improves blood supply to tissues helping the body to heal. Osteopaths do not use medicine or surgery as a treatment option and will refer patients to GPs or specialists if the diagnosis and prognosis requires further care beyond the scope of osteopathic practice.

Only registered osteopaths with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) are permitted to call themselves osteopaths and practice osteopathy.

You can access osteopathic treatment through private clinics, with the possibility to access treatment through health insurance and occasionally through the NHS.

Osteopathy, Physiotherapy and Chiropractors

As all three practices use manual therapy, which is the massage and mobilisation of muscles, joints and soft tissue, it can be difficult to recognise the difference between each form of treatment. Although similar, each treatment has a different role and purpose for patients.

What is a Chiropractor?

Chiropractors help relieve problems with patients bones, muscles and joints. Chiropractic treatment is considered a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) meaning it is not widely available on the NHS and it is not a conventional form of medicine.

Chiropractors have to be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) by law.

Differences between Osteopathy & Chiropractors

The main differences with diagnosis between osteopaths and chiropractor is osteopaths look at problems with joints, soft tissue, muscles by viewing the body and function as a whole where as chiropractors look at the effect bones, soft tissue and muscle has on the nervous system, usually focusing mainly on the spine and areas around the spine.
There are also differences with treatment plans, as osteopaths will use soft tissue massage, manipulation exercises and joint movement using a holistic approach to improve the body function as a whole. Whereas chiropractors use manipulation to adjust the spine position and corresponding joints to improve nerve function.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a form of treatment that is performed by physiotherapists, who help to restore movement in a patient’s body, usually after injury, illness or disability. Physiotherapists cover a wide range of problems including injury and pain to the bones, muscle and soft tissue including sports injuries, movement issues with brain & nervous system, such as from stroke, heart and circulation such as recovery after heart attack, and lungs & breathing issues such as cystic fibrosis. Physiotherapists work as part of a team often in hospitals, some GP surgeries, sports clubs, places of work and community health clinics. They are available through the NHS and privately, with referral from a GP or self referral available.

Differences between Osteopathy & Physiotherapy

The main differences between osteopaths and physiotherapists is that physios are not often present in the diagnosis of a patient because patients are most commonly referred to via their GP (or sports personnel). Physios then treat the diagnosed area of injury rather than the body as a whole, using exercises to strengthen the specific muscles in preparation for recovery, concentrating on one problem so the treatment is specific.