Skip to main content

Differences between an Osteopath and Chiropractor

At the Wimbledon Chiropractic and Sports Injury Clinic, patients often ask the difference between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath.

It's often tough to receive an honest answer to this kind of question, as the person providing the solution is usually a Chiropractor or an Osteopath, so their response is skewed towards their profession.

Here we try and break it down in the article below:

chiropractors and osteopaths in Wimbledon the comparisons


The experience a patient receives when visiting an osteopath or chiropractor may not be clear cut. One pair of hands is different to another, and each clinic may have made various equipment investments.

Also, in the years following their initial four to five years of training osteopaths and chiropractors may undertake the same or different post-graduate courses. e.g. some might focus on treating babies while some would concentrate more on sports injuries.

The above results in the overall package of care being different or very similar depending on the individual clinicians being compared. it may be better to check the team page and research your practitioner and check out the clinical facility

As a Chiropractor myself I inevitably know more about the ins and outs of the Chiropractic profession than Osteopathy. While in no way considering myself or being allowed (by law) to call me; an Osteopath, I have a great deal of respect for the osteopathic profession.

Below is my best attempt at a straight answer, ignoring any additional non-osteopathic / chiropractic post-graduate courses a practitioner in private practice may have taken (apologies in advance to any Osteopaths for any inaccuracies).


Osteopathy and Chiropractic share a common origin from late 19th Century America with one becoming prominent in Europe and the other in North America.

Chiropractic is often seen as new in Europe, while Osteopathy is considered to be new in North America.

The goal of both professions is to use hands-on manipulation of the body, rather than medication, to relieve and prevent body pain, particularly in the spine, where most pain generates from joints.


Chiropractic traditionally has a strong emphasis on achieving optimum joint alignment, particularly of the joints in the spine to maintain optimum health.

Chiropractors place great emphasis on the exact position of any misalignments and the direction in which correction needs to take place and are trained to use x-rays to aid in this process (although they may use other methods to avoid x-ray exposure, like our postural screen technology).

Osteopaths do recognise the potential for misalignments and joints that may be “stuck”, but they do not receive the same training in x-ray analysis as Chiropractors. Due to not having this radiographic skill, osteopathic doctors tend to place emphasis on palpation (touching an area to feel its position) as a way of diagnosing problems. While chiropractors also use this method they use the imaging methods to eradicate doubts (fractures, block vertebra, scoliosis monitoring etc).


Most osteopathic treatments include a fair amount of soft tissue work (massage and stretching) as well as joint articulation or “clicking” (High-Velocity Thrust, HVT) to loosen or re-align stiff joints and re-set nerve reflexes.

Average Chiropractic treatment will focus on re-aligning the spine and pelvis using manipulation, but the exact method of manipulation will depend on which chiropractic method is being used, for example, Diversified, Bio-Physics, Gonstead, Activator, Drop Table, or Mc Timoney Chiropractic techniques.

We use a combination of Diversified, Bio-Physics, and drop table techniques and couple it with softening techniques (massage and foam rolling), stretching and stability exercises.

Diversified is taught to all Chiropractors at the undergraduate level, for the neck and middle back the techniques are very similar to the HVT techniques learnt by osteopaths.

For lower back treatment Osteopaths are taught a method known as the “lumbar role” whereby the main thrust is delivered through the Osteopaths forearm on the patient's pelvis.

This lower back technique differs in (diversified) Chiropractic where the push is given by direct contact with the Chiropractors hand on the segment being moved. The direct contact reduces the force needed and comes with an emphasis on precision (only moving what needs to be moved)


Treatment times tend to be a little longer for Osteopathy, whereas Chiropractic treatments tend to be a little shorter but more frequent. However, at The Wimbledon Chiropractic & Sports Injury Clinic, these are usually 30mins a similar length to most osteopaths.


Costs and sessions need to get patients out of the crisis are statistically similar to both professions.