Whilst they share a lot in common, there are subtle differences between the osteopathic and chiropractic approaches. Below we look at them main similarities and differences to each professionals approach.

What are the similarities between osteopaths and chiropractors

  • Both treat musculoskeletal conditions using manual therapy, i.e. ‘hands on’ techniques
  • Both share a common history and philosophy which set them apart from mainstream medicine.
  • The primary objective of both osteopathy and chiropractic is most frequently the relief of mechanical aches and pains in the body.
  • Both treat more than just bones, joints, and soft tissues.
  • Both have an influence on the nervous system and blood supply and may therefore have a positive impact on medical conditions such as asthma, stress, digestive disorders, period pain, migraine and many more.
  • In diagnosing patients, osteopaths and chiropractors both use observation and touch.

What are the differences between osteopaths and chiropractors

  • The founding of osteopathy pre-dates the chiropractic discipline by twenty one years.
  • Chiropractors tend to focus mainly on the alignment of the spine as the primary means to relieve pain by preventing any compromise of the nervous system, whereas osteopaths assess the musculoskeletal system as a whole and help improve its function by correcting the overall posture and alignment.
  • Osteopaths treat a broader range of functional problems, including issues such as respiratory and digestive system disorders.
  • Chiropractors frequently rely on more diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, MRI scans, whereas osteopaths place more emphasis on clinical examination, and will generally refer patients on for more diagnostic procedures if required.  However, Dr Greenland is in the unique position of being a medically qualified osteopath, and therefore has direct access to diagnostic imaging modalities when required.
  • Osteopaths tend to use a greater variety of techniques to influence the body’s own innate healing system such as muscle and soft tissue techniques, joint articulation and manipulation, whereas chiropractors’ primary tool is the vertebral “adjustment”, which is similar to osteopathic manipulation, to facilitate optimal nerve transition.
  • Chiropractic appointments tend to be shorter as they primarily focus on adjustment techniques which are quicker to carry out.  Osteopaths spend more time with their patients per visit as their approach is broader and treatments tend to be spaced out over a longer period of time.
  • Chiropractors tend to need to see their patients more frequently since the adjustments are usually only temporary and the muscles tend to pull the misaligned vertebrae out of position again.  This means that more adjustments are needed for them to settle into position.
  • Many osteopaths adopt a ‘find the problem, fix it, and leave it alone’ approach.  However, many chiropractors believe that their patients need to attend for regular maintenance treatments, long after the original problem has resolved.

Source: Total Integrated Medicine, UK