The Difference Between Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, and Osteopathy

stoke chiropractor giving adjustmentClients who are visiting our chiropractor clinic in Stoke on Trent – City Chiropractic for the first time often have several questions about chiropractic treatments. One of the most common questions we hear is “What is the difference between Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, and Osteopathy?”

There are many similarities between these three professions, but also some important differences. Whilst they are all complementary therapies, they have different philosophies and use different treatment modalities to achieve therapeutic goals. In this article our Stoke chiropractor will identify both the similarities and differences between each approach.


Similarities between chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths

There are several similarities between each discipline, including:

  • Highly trained
    All three professions require extensive university-based training.
  • Complementary medicine
    All three professions are forms of complementary therapy, which are sometimes used in conjunction with traditional medicine.
  • Focus on musculoskeletal system
    They all focus on the health of the musculoskeletal system, which is the organ system that gives your body the ability to move.
  • Primary care providers
    Chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths can diagnose, treat, and refer patients without the intervention of a general practitioner
  • Protected titles
    Therapists cannot call themselves a chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath unless they have the appropriate qualification.


Differences between chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths


Chiropractic was founded on the belief that the spine plays a central role in determining a person’s health as it is directly related to the central nervous system. Essentially, chiropractors believe that having a healthy spine helps the central nervous system to function more effectively, helping the body recover from various illnesses.

The core focus of modern chiropractors is to diagnose, correct, and prevent disorders which affect the musculoskeletal system. This includes the body’s muscles, ligaments, joints, spine and pelvis.

Although chiropractic is often associated with spinal adjustments, it also includes other therapies including massage and rehabilitative exercise programs. Modern chiropractors also use advanced tools like ultrasound devices to perform diagnostics.

Chiropractors use a variety of manipulation techniques to correct misalignments (subluxations) of the spine. These techniques can improve many aspects of a person’s health as they help the nervous system function effectively.

When you visit a chiropractor in Stoke on Trent, you can expect them to take a holistic approach to your health. That means they will look at your physical condition, exercise regime, diet, and stress levels when assessing your overall health. This holistic approach means chiropractors can provide advice on many aspects of human health.



Physiotherapists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders. They primarily focus on rehabilitation and helping patients recover their ability to move and function. However, they also have in-depth knowledge on human anatomy and physiology, so can provide patients with advice on a range of health conditions.

To treat patients, physiotherapists will use movement training and manual therapy. This approach is designed to repair damaged tissue, relieve pain, reduce stiffness, and increase mobility. Physiotherapists will use different treatment modalities compared to a chiropractor and will have less of a focus on the spine. They typically focus on the joint that is injured and take a less holistic view.



Osteopaths believe that injuries, postural problems, and a poor lifestyle can damage human anatomy and cause poor health. They take a holistic approach which looks at how internal organs, tissue, muscles, joints, bones, and nerves focus in conjunction with one another.

If you visited an osteopath with a sore neck, they would look at your entire body to see if they could determine the root cause of your neck problem. This is similar to the approach taken when you visit a chiropractor, however, chiropractors are more likely to focus on the spine and directly related components of the musculoskeletal system.

Similar to chiropractors and physiotherapists, an osteopath will use non-invasive treatments centred around manual manipulation of the body. Like chiropractors, they also focus on the lifestyle factors which may be related to a person’s condition.


Wrapping up

As you can see, all three specialisations have a lot in common and there is a lot of cross-over in terms of the conditions they can treat.

If you would like to learn more about chiropractic treatment and how one of our experienced team of Stoke on Trent chiropractors can help you, contact City Chiropractic Clinic or call us on 01782 848 184 to schedule an appointment.

Stoke City Chiropractic ClinicTake your first step towards better health and call us on 01782 848 184 today

From the team at City Chiropractic Clinic
Our Chiropractors in Stoke on Trent are here to help you

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