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What is the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

Posted by Phil Heler, MD on January 12, 2017

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What is the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

What is the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

What is the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions in our clinic! It is indeed very confusing for all of us to distinguish between different professions all of which operate within the manual therapy health sector. For most people, as long as they obtain some reasonable sense of pain relief, how important are the differences anyway?

Actually, even for me, as an osteopath, this question is not very easy to answer either. Over recent years these professions have gradually become less distinct.

Osteopathy and Chiropractic each share a reasonably common root both historically and even conceptually.   Andrew Taylor Still developed osteopathy in America in 1874. Frustrated by orthodox medical practices of his day he devoted his life to finding a better and more effective way of treating the human body. He developed an entire system of manual techniques that aimed to improve the body’s ability to function and thus promote overall health and well-being.

Chiropractic meanwhile was developed by Daniel Palmer in 1895 (also in America) who famously performed an adjustment on the upper back of a janitor, the consequences of which led to a dramatic improvement in the janitor’s hearing. Daniel Palmer also evolved a range of his own techniques that were perhaps a little more focused on a specific joint adjustment and/or manipulation, whereas osteopathy is arguably broader and holistic in its approach to the human body.

Generally however the fundamental differences in approach between osteopathy and chiropracty may be more or less obvious depending on the actual individual practitioner. There are osteopaths who treat using the same principle as chiropractic and chiropractors that treat more holistically like an osteopath. Generally both professions are equally trained to the highest standards and have excellent clinical skills. Both will be registered with their professional bodies and fully insured