Updated: Apr 28, 2020
What is the main difference between Osteopathy and Physiotherapy? The eternal question.
I have been asked this question so many times and I find myself giving different answers every time. I came upon an article written by Ian Cassidy recently who put it in a very nice way: sure both treatment modalities may be similar or even may seem identical sometimes, but the outcome is far from identical. But why? Osteopathy has a uniting philosophy behind the treatment. It is not what an Osteopath does, it is why they do it. (BMJ 1999;319:1176) Over the years the two professions acquired more similarities than differences. The general osteopathic council defines osteopathy as: "Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together." Whereas the chartered society of physiotherapists defines physiotherapy as: "Physiotherapy helps restore movement and function to as near normal as possible when someone is affected by injury, illness or by developmental or other disability. They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.The profession helps to encourage development and facilitate recovery, enabling people to stay in work while helping them to remain independent for as long as possible."
Sounds pretty much the same?
In the end of the day you want to choose a practitioner who is evidence based and you need to remember is that one practitioner does not replace the other.
An osteopath should not replace a physiotherapist when rehabilitation treatment is necessary and the opposite also stands: a physiotherapist can not practice as an osteopath without the appropriate training. They are absolutely different – although both complimentary.
Studies conducted on back pain support, have actually shown the effectiveness of using both osteopathy and physiotherapy as complementary treatments. The advantage of having these two professions in the same clinic is that your practitionner will refer you to another treatment if he thinks it is more suitable for you.
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Keep it clean! Use references.
1. General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). General Osteopathic Council, http://www.osteopathy.org.uk/visiting-an-osteopath/about-osteopathy/, (Accessed 06/10/2017).
2. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP). Chartered Society for Physiotherapy, http://www.csp.org.uk/your-health/what-physiotherapy, (Accessed 06/10/2017)
3. My Osteo London, http://www.myosteolondon.com/single-post/2016/02/08/Osteopath-or-Physiotherapist-That-is-the-question