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What is the difference between an osteopath, a chiropractor and a physiotherapist?

Have you ever wondered what the difference between an osteopath, a chiropractor and a physiotherapist is?  Jewel is here to help answer that!


I often get asked what’s the difference between an osteopath, physiotherapist and chiropractor. Although all manual therapist have similar goals, each profession approaches the body differently with their values and philosophies.


Chiropractors primarily address mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system. In this treatment, there is an emphasis on the spine and how that relates to the body. They are commonly known for adjustments and manipulations of the spine.


Physiotherapists work in hospitals and private practice. They have a strong focus on rehabilitation and exercise and may use techniques like massage and hydrotherapy. A physiotherapist aims to retrain the musculoskeletal system using gym-based exercises.


Osteopaths look at the body as a whole addressing the root of the cause. They ask the question: why has this occurred? Osteopaths use a combination of techniques including stretching, joint mobilizations, soft tissue, manipulation, balancing and fascial release. We look at the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs to look at the body from a holistic approach. Osteopaths can also prescribe home-based stretching and exercises to help people manage their injuries at home.

How can I find the best practitioner for me?

Although all three of these health professionals have a common goal, they all treat and approach the body very differently. You must choose the right health practitioner for you. Don’t be scared to ask what is their area of interest, or their ideal conditions to treat are? This way, you can find someone who best suits you!

Great practitioners focus on the person they have in front of them, taking all aspects of the person into consideration. They might ask you about your diet, sleep and support system. They want to know what you love to do and how they can help you get back to it. Stay away from practitioners who are seeing multiple patients at once or someone who isn’t willing to answer your questions. You want them focused on you and you alone.

Your health practitioner should be actively listening to you, empowering you and using positive language in your recovery. It doesn’t matter which health professional you choose as long as it is someone committed to getting you stronger and back to the things you love!


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