The Difference Between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath

The Difference Between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath

A common question people ask me is what is the difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

Sometimes I joke, “the spelling!”.

This is, however, closer to the truth than we realise.

Although these are two different professions, in essence, their history, philosophy, science, and technique are interlinked, which is why distinguishing them is confusing.

Let’s look at those differences and compare:

Difference between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath – How they came to be? 

Making physical manipulations to the spine as a treatment for aches and pains dates back to ancient Greece. In the middle ages, this was known as bone setting.

At the turn of the 20th century, when science and philosophy were expanding, bone setting was fractured into partisan lines. Chiropractic treatment, and osteopathic, which evolved into the two professions we know today.

These health professionals both knew bone setting worked but disagreed on nuisance points. As science developed, they were both right but the fracture had already happened.


There are two divergent philosophies within these two professions: an inside out and outside in.

Both help to improve overall health and quality of life in their patients, by providing pain relief.

An inside out philosophy is a holistic approach seeking to know both the isolated symptoms and the cause. Practitioners with this approach will encourage the healing response in their patients.

Whereas an outside in approach views the isolated symptom as the cause. It focuses on mechanistic outside sources of the body to heal, discounting the body’s natural healing response.

In my experience, there are Chiropractors with an inside out and outside in approach and vice versa for Osteopaths.


Osteopaths and Chiropractors share their science because our techniques are so similar.

Research shows treatment via spinal changes will heal neck and back pain faster than medication or no intervention.

It’s well known that the spine and nervous system are interlinked, and treatment helps the body switch from a sympathetic dominant state (fight or flight), to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) by calming down the nervous system.


As I said, our techniques are very similar; if you saw a Chiropractor and Osteopath treating someone, people without prior knowledge would not be able to tell the difference.

I’ve worked with Osteopaths, and I’ve always found them to be just as skilled and professional as any Chiropractors.

The differences in our technique are slight and I’ve learnt a lot from my Osteopath colleagues, as I hope they did from me.

So we are more similar than different is my answer to the question of this blog, which is the irony of my joke.


When looking for a practitioner, my advice is not a choice between seeing an Osteopath or a Chiropractor – instead, figure out what practitioner will suit you.

If you desire an outside in approach then seek those types of practitioners, or if you prefer inside out then vice versa.

As a practitioner, my personal approach is an inside out and holistic philosophy. I realise this isn’t for everyone, and that’s why instead of focusing on a profession, I would focus on a practitioner with an approach that will suit you for your best results.

I discuss this in more detail in my book “The Back Doctor School of Health”, available on Amazon.

If you’d like to have a free consultation, call our clinic in Haywards Heath today on 01444 453888, or fill out our form on our website.

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