Understanding the Differences: Osteopath vs Physiotherapist vs Chiropractor

specialise in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Three of the most common types of manual therapists are osteopaths, physiotherapists, and chiropractors. While these professions share some similarities, they each have unique approaches to treating patients. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between osteopaths, physiotherapists, and chiropractors.



Osteopaths focus on the musculoskeletal system and how it relates to the overall health of the body. They believe that the body has the innate ability to heal itself, and that manual therapy can help facilitate this process. Osteopaths use a range of techniques, including massage, stretching, and joint mobilization, to relieve pain, improve range of motion, and restore balance to the body.

Osteopaths also take into consideration the patient’s lifestyle and environment and may offer advice on exercise, diet, and stress management. Osteopathic treatment is often holistic, addressing not only the patient’s physical symptoms but also their emotional and psychological well-being.


Physiotherapists, also known as physical therapists, are experts in movement and function. They undergo a long training and those in the UK will be registered with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). They focus on restoring mobility, reducing pain, and improving strength and flexibility. Physiotherapists use a range of techniques, including exercise therapy, manual therapy, and electrotherapy, to achieve these goals. Physiotherapists may use equipment to diagnose and treat patients.



Physiotherapists also work closely with patients to develop personalised treatment plans and may offer advice on injury prevention and lifestyle modifications. In addition to treating musculoskeletal conditions, physiotherapists may also work with patients who have neurological, respiratory, or cardiovascular conditions.


Physios also specialise in sports injuries such as running or team sport injuries. They can diagnose the problem and provide effective treatment and exercises to get the individual to full mobility and recovery in many cases. Throughout the treatment, the physio will work with the sportsperson using a range of techniques to improve their flexibility and reduce pain.