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

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Ever wondered what the difference between a chiropractor, physiotherapist and osteopath is? Me too.

Who cracks your back? Who helps your sports injuries? Who should you go to if you have a stiff neck?

It’s all too much, really. Except that it isn’t, because everything you need to know is laid out below. You’re welcome.


According to the Chiropractors Association of Australia, chiropractors focus on the relationship between the spine, pelvis and our nervous system. The bones in our spine protect our spinal cord and nerves, and if these are damaged tissue and organs can become impaired.

So, if you’re experiencing back problems, a chiro appointment could be beneficial (although it’s commonly recommended you see a GP first for a referral). Generally, they will make adjustments to a patient’s spine, skull and pelvis.

In Australia, chiros are required to study at uni for five years, and are government-registered and government-regulated.


‘What the hell is an osteo, then?’ I hear you ask.

Well, as Osteopathy Australia explains, they focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as one unit.

Using hands-on techniques, osteos attempt to figure out any dysfunctions in your body, and then stretch and massage them out of your soft tissues — like your muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as your joints.

Osteopaths are university-trained and study subjects like anatomy, physiology, pathology, general medical diagnosis and osteopathic techniques.

The Australian Medical Association considers both chiropractic and osteopathy to be complementary therapies. (Post continues after gallery.)


The Australian Physiotherapy Association explains that physios assess, diagnose, treat and work to prevent disease and disability through physical means.

They work with a whole range of patients who have movement disorders, including people who are recovering from accidents, sports injuries, as well as people suffering from arthritis, depression and diabetes.

Physiotherapists are trained to assess your condition, diagnose the problem, and help you understand what’s wrong. In Australia they are required to have to have a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters or Professional Doctorate of Physiotherapy.

So there you have it.

Have you ever seen a physio, chiro or osteo? What was the reason?

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