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Differences Between Chiropractors and Osteopaths

Choosing the doctor that is going to benefit you the most is critical to your health, both now and in the future. Depending on your ailments — from back and neck pain to muscle tension, bad posture, and even digestive problems — learning the differences between chiropractors and osteopaths can help you decide which health care provider would be best for you.


Chiropractic treatment mainly focuses on the spine and nervous system with the belief that when the spine is out of alignment, it can cause many side effects that affect your overall state of health. These can include hypertension, digestive issues, ear infections, problems sleeping, and more. As the nervous system begins to function normally, many other subtle health concerns often disappear for chiropractic patients.

Some chiropractors, also incorporate massage therapy into their treatment. As they function as primary health care providers, they will also go over your health history, lifestyle and diet, and provide recommendations to allow you to improve your own health between appointments. They will teach various stretches and exercises you can do to speed up your healing process and keep your body in good health.


The osteopath discipline is similar to chiropractic care in that it is also non-invasive and aims to treat the body naturally while avoiding medication and surgery. Osteopathy tends to be more holistic in nature and practitioners will manipulate your entire body with their hands.

Osteopaths also use massage therapy and other techniques such as “Myofascial Release,” which helps relax muscles and improve circulation. Another commonly used technique is called palpation. This requires a high level of skill to gently examine a patient’s body and determine its structure and weak spots to create the right kind of treatment for that person.

Main Differences

There are areas in which these two disciplines overlap one another, but there are some key differences that may help you decide which doctor would benefit you more.

  • Chiropractors mainly focus on adjusting the spine
  • Osteopaths focus on the entire body and may do more soft tissue and muscle work
  • Chiropractors utilize tests such as x-rays and MRI scans when needed
  • Osteopaths can treat other ailments such as respiratory issues
  • Osteopaths might utilize more techniques on different parts of the body

Both types of doctors have their benefits, and it really depends on your own preferences when choosing which one to work with. Are your issues mainly in your back or neck? Do you have digestion problems? Do you have chronic pain mostly in other joints? Consult both health care professionals, explain your situation and see which doctor offers a solution that works for you.