What Is the Difference Between Chiropractors, Osteopaths and Physiotherapists?


You are certainly not alone if you have ever wondered what the difference between a chiropractor, osteopath and physiotherapist is. In many ways, the three professions work towards the same goals, albeit with slightly different techniques & philosophies. 

All three professions are primary care practitioners meaning you do not need a referral from your GP.

As the global brand you can trust, ACE Sports Clinics offer client’s access to a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist in Malvern.  Having helped clients from all over the world find solutions for pain, sports injuries & improved performance through our unique collaborative approach.  

Read on to learn which may be best suited to your needs, and remember, a surefire answer comes with a quick phone call to the team at ACE Sports Clinic.

The differences between Chiropractors, Osteopaths & Physiotherapists

A Chiropractor is a specialist in the spine’s mechanical problems, offering solutions that can include manipulation, mobilisation, massage, and various other therapeutic exercises.

Chiropractors can take and read x-rays to help determine what may be causing your particular issue.  A Chiropractor’s philosophy begins with the nervous system & spine.

Osteopaths use a therapeutic approach that is similar to that of a chiropractor; however, Osteos use a range of gentle hands-on manual techniques including muscle energy techniques. 

Osteopaths take a holistic approach to the body to treat spinal and peripheral joints, muscles and ligament sprains.  Osteopaths utilize fine palpation skills to detect tissue texture changes that may indicate altered function. 

Physiotherapy is a broad field that covers a range of conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Traditionally, physiotherapists use exercise-based approaches, advice & have a rehabilitation & movement focus as opposed to being as hands-on as a Chiro or Osteo may be.

The difference between a Chiropractor & an Osteopath

Both of these professions focus on solving problems all over the body from spinal alignment and posture to headaches and joint pain.  They are similar, even though their approach can sometimes be very different.

A Chiropractor is often interested in how your body works but considers it all through a nerve, spinal and muscular system lens.  They focus on pain relief and injury recovery, using spine and joint adjustments along with massage and rehabilitative exercises to heal and improve a patient’s quality of life.

One crucial element to note is that chiropractors do not prescribe drugs, choosing instead to focus on drug-free alternative treatments.  Some Chiropractors have additional training in Acupuncture.

An Osteopath will often take a more holistic approach, examining a person’s entire body to find the underlying cause of a particular issue.  The focus is often a way to combat pain or injury, using massage, muscle energy, physical therapy and body manipulation.  

Osteopathy considers the deformation of the skeleton and interference with nerves.  Some Osteopaths have additional training in Dry Needling.

Both Chiropractors and Osteopaths treat patients by maximizing the bodies range of motion in an effort to restore better overall function.

Understanding Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that looks to identify and maximise a person’s ability to move and function.  Physiotherapy can help you improve your health and overall quality of life.

A Physio has professional knowledge and skills to determine which social and environmental factors may be limiting the patient’s movement and function. They work to identify what is limiting movement and performance, then implement a way to address it.

Physiotherapy is person-centred and constantly evolving as new knowledge and understanding reveal themselves through evaluation and research.  Physiotherapy is an autonomous profession, meaning referrals can come from a range of sources.

Physiotherapy has a primary goal to maximise an individual’s movement capability, maintain and improve movement and function with treatment and provide rehabilitation and advice.  In many cases, this can enhance the patient’s performance with quality, innovative services that are effective and efficient.  Physiotherapy is also heavily linked to clinical and academic studies, regularly adapting to developments in practice, education or research.  Some Physiotherapists also have additional training in Dry Needling.

How do you know which option is best for you?

As you can see by the explanations above, there is quite a bit of overlap in the conditions and injuries that a Chiro, Physio & Osteo can help.  Depending on your treatment preference all three professions may be suitable for some injuries, with clear options for others, e.g., a slipped disc or spinal facet joint injury may require a Chiropractor or Osteopath while a post ACL reconstructive injury may require a Physiotherapist for rehabilitation. 

So how do you know which can help you?

Initially, we recommend a consultation with one of the diagnosing and primary practitioners at ACE Sports Clinic (Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Chiropractor) to evaluate your issue, then determine which channel may be best to suit your needs.

This is one of the primary advantages of offering all three options to our clients.  We work as a collaborative team to ensure you get the best results.  Many of our clients see multiple practitioners at Ace Sports Clinics because over the years we have seen how exponentially better results are when Practitioners work as a team and communicate together in your best interests.

Prevention without injury

In many cases, you may wish to see one of our Osteopaths, Physiotherapists or Chiropractors for a regular session to keep your body running smoothly instead of dealing with a specific issue. Similar to a regular car service.

Therapeutic treatment, soft tissue massage & mobilisation, with exercises can be beneficial even when not injured.  Our experience suggests that people who take a more proactive approach to treatment have fewer issues in the long term.

Relieving some tightness, increasing flexibility and checking to see that all your joints are aligned and operating well is all part of a regular preventative checkup.

If you work at a desk all day or have a very physically demanding job, soft tissue massage and stretching can be used in addition to Chiro, Osteo or Physio, to loosen and relax tight, sore muscles. Massage therapy stimulates blood flow to reduce tissue swelling, helping you to feel great after a hard day.  

Our Myotherapists & Remedial Massage therapists help with stress and tension and a range of other benefits.  It is a chance to let the body relax and focus on healing and maintaining a balanced system that complements the work of Chiropractors, Osteopaths & Physiotherapists Malvern.

Book a consultation with ACE Sports Clinic for treatment today

The team here at ACE Sports Clinic are here to help.  We also offer more than just the services mentioned above like Physiotherapy. Malvern patients have access to our team of highly trained health professionals who take a holistic approach to their health.  

It is our goal to help your body work better overall, as opposed to simply fixing an injury.

Our range of therapies can help you live an active, healthy and happy life.  Ask about the following options

If you live in or near Malvern, book a consultation with our friendly, experienced staff today. There is no need to suffer through constant pain or use medication as part of your daily routine. Join the large list of patients we have helped to find relief. We care about helping you feel your best, so let’s get started!