by Nadine Harrison – Chiropractor

As a chiropractor, this is one of the questions I am most frequently asked in clinic – “what is the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?” The short answer, today, is “very little!”

The professions of Osteopathy and Chiropractic have far more in common than the differences that set us apart.


  • Both undertake significant training, usually 4 – 6 years at university undergraduate or masters level, in order to qualify in their respective professions.
  • Both professions are regulated and legislated in the UK; it is illegal to call yourself an osteopath or chiropractor, unless you have achieved your degree.
  • Both professions keep up with continued professional development, every year, in order to retain their qualifications.
  • Both treat “musculoskeletal” pain and dysfunction, that is lack of movement, or pain, usually caused be restricted or sprained joints, and tight, sore or weak muscles.
  • Both are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat muscles and joints.
  • Both use hands on techniques and therapies to help the joints and muscles move better.
  • Both can refer you to your doctor, if required. Likewise you can seek the help of either without needing to go to your doctor first.


  • Most of the differences between the professions are becoming historical. Whilst they both were originating from and founded in America; Osteopathy’s found was Andrew Still, whilst Chiropractic’s founder was known as Daniel Palmer.
  • Osteopathy has had a foundation in how the musculoskeletal system may effect the fluid in our bodies, such as our lymphatic system. On the other hand chiropractic was built on the role our nervous system plays in our keeping us functioning well and how working on our joint movement would effect our nervous system function.
  • The two professions will often use different language to explain similar phenomenon; for example both use join manipulation, which chiropractors often refer to as an “adjustment”. Historically chiropractors would purely use joint adjustments to treat patients, today however, many chiropractors will use a full range of techniques, as do osteopaths. This may include joint manipulation, soft tissue massage and stretching, medical acupuncture, exercises and lifestyle advice.

Key messages:

  • They professions of Osteopathy and Chiropractic are more similar than different. Both titles are protected by law and professionals have completed rigorous training to be safe and competent in their work.
  • There are some historical differences but today the professions practice similarly, with most differences being down to the individual. They are both very well placed to treat pain or dysfunction of the muscles or joints such as back pain and neck pain

To book an appointment with either our experienced Chiropractors or Osteopaths please ring 01865 558561 or book online here.

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