Chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths- Who’s best to help me with my pain? What’s the difference?

Sep 10, 2020

This is a question we get asked A LOT.

We know it’s confusing as a patient trying to decide who to go to for treatment. One friend says “Oh you need to see an Osteopath, it worked for me” another tells you “I had a brilliant chiropractor once – fixed me up” or “oh no you don’t want to see X, just keep taking the painkillers”.

Arrrgh – where do you start?

Well some good news – you get great chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths, who can all help you.

How does that help? You might ask.  I always tell patients it is about choosing the right person, the right philosophy and the right environment for you. It doesn’t really matter what their title is.

chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths - what's the difference?

Chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths are all manual therapists (hands on treatment) which can help with mechanical pain, injury or wear and tear.

We are all Regulated Professions which means:
• We are Registered
• Insured
• Have to adhere to strict codes of conduct and safe practice
• Complete Continuous Professional Development every year
 It is illegal to use one of these titles if you are not properly qualified and registered.

We are all  likely to advise on exercise, rehabilitation and lifestyle changes, where necessary.

Chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths – what is the difference? How do I choose?

Our background, philosophy and history are where our difference stems from.

Osteopaths traditionally believe in a holistic approach. So, we look not just at the area of pain but for the root cause of your symptoms. Why did that injury occur in the first place? What left you vulnerable to it? How are you using your body on a daily basis which may have led to this?

This means you might come to see us for knee pain but we may end up treating your ankle, hips and pelvis too.

Contrary to popular belief we don’t just treat the spine or back. We treat the whole body.
We treat muscles, bones, joints, nerves and connective tissues, in any part of the body.

We use a variety of techniques from massage, joint and muscles stretches, joint mobilisations and manipulations (where you might hear a click or pop), exercise / rehab prescription and lifestyle advice (such as desk set up and stress relief techniques).

Chiropractors also treat bones, joints and muscles, using hands on techniques.
Traditionally chiropractors have been known for focussing on the spine but this has changed over the years and they do treat other joints too.
Treatment by a chiropractor involves manipulation. This involves precise movement of the spine or joints. Sometimes manipulation moves the spine or joints further than they would normally move.
Chiropractic treatments tend to be shorter and focus on manipulation, with some massage work.
You will likely be given exercises/ rehab and lifestyle advice too.

chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths - What's the difference?

These are probably the best-known sector as we are most familiar with them within the NHS.

They started out as nurses who used to help patients with massage techniques and it grew from there.

Like Osteopaths and Chiropractors, Physiotherapists treat a range of joints and muscles. Many private sector physiotherapists, in particular are taking a more holistic approach now too

As well as hands on treatments, physiotherapist tend to focus a lot on rehab and exercise prescription.

Obviously, physiotherapist will be involved in rehab after a fracture, surgery, neurological conditions/injuries as well as in specific conditions, such as cystic fibrosis.

So, you can see there is a lot of over lap in what we treat and slight difference in how we go about it.  I try to explain that you will get Osteopaths who work like traditional Chiropractors and Chiropractors who work very holistically like traditional Osteopaths and vice versa.

chiropractors, physiotherapist, osteopaths - What's the difference?

So, it comes down to this – choose the person not the title.

We would love it if you decided our team of Osteopaths was right for you.
We believe that helping people to live their life free from pain, is a privilege and we would love to help you.

At Cheadle Osteopathy it especially important to us that you feel listened to, that we take time to explain why you have the symptoms you have and that you leave feeling reassured and empowered to take back control of your pain.



Cheadle Osteopathy

  • Why us?
    • Our expert Osteopaths are all registered with The General Osteopathic Council, and are fully insured.
    • We have specialist Osteopaths for the treatment of babies and children and medical acupuncture. Male and female Osteopaths available.
    • Clean, modern, welcoming and professional clinic, with great baby care facilities
    • Easy booking online 24/7, or over the phone six days a week . Get automatic appointment reminders by text and email
  • • Evening and weekend appointments available

We look forward to seeing you soon –

Three easy steps to feeling better ……..

Book Now

What's the difference between osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists?

Feel Better – Book Now

Still not sure?
Meet the team
What our patients say about us
Frequently asked questions

Useful links: General Osteopathic CouncilInstitute of Osteopathy 


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