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Difference Between Osteopath and Chiropractor

Osteopath vs Chiropractor

Osteopath and chiropractors treat bodily diseases in a similar manner: they view the body as a self-sufficient system which is capable of healing itself. Andrew Taylor founded the osteopathy movement way back in 1874, while one of his former students, Daniel David Palmer, jumpstarted the chiropractic movement in 1895. People who are unfamiliar with the way osteopaths and chiropractors work mistakenly assume that they follow the same healing procedures. After all, both of them use the same techniques to diagnose their patients: palpation, or touch, and observation.

Both of them also find MRI scans, urine tests, blood tests, and X-rays useful when making diagnoses. However, even though osteopaths and chiropractors have similar diagnostic techniques, they have differing perspectives when it comes to treatment of bodily diseases. Osteopaths believe that the body is in an ideal state when two factors are fulfilled: first, the body must have a free-flowing blood supply, and second, conflicts between bone and muscle positioning can impede normal body functions and lead to diseases.

Osteopaths treat bones as their medical tools, manipulating them in different ways in order to cure a particular ligament, muscle, tendon, or organ. Osteopaths believe that the key to activating the body’s self-healing capacity lies in the proper manipulation of bones. If osteopaths look up to bones as the means to heal the body, chiropractors look up to the spinal column and accompanying vertebrae in order to alleviate diseases throughout the body. The spinal column is the central communication facility of the body, and all nerves are connected to the spine and the vertebrae to facilitate efficient communication between the body and the different organs. Due to constant activity, the vertebrae can shift in different directions, causing inefficient nerve communication which may result in pain and other problems to the rest of the body.

Another difference between osteopaths and chiropractors lies in their healing ability. Chiropractors have been known to heal intense pain and discomfort, but osteopaths are known to provide treatment for more serious problems in the digestive or respiratory systems. Osteopaths employ a number of techniques to awaken the body’s natural healing process, such as join articulation, soft tissue, muscle work, and manipulation or mobilization. Popping the patient’s joints is a common procedure among osteopaths, and has an analgesic or pain-relieving effect.

Chiropractors, on the other hand, focus on only one procedure which they term as adjustment. Chiropractors apply pressure to the vertebrae and shift them back to their proper position. Adjustment takes several sessions, because even though a certain vertebrae has been aligned, the succeeding vertebrae may not follow suit and continue to be misaligned after a certain period of time. Osteopaths in general use more techniques than chiropractors, but this does not necessarily mean that they are more effective than chiropractors. The only way to determine which school of treatment suits you is by trying them both, and determining which treatment benefits you the most.


1. Osteopaths and chiropractors utilize similar diagnostic techniques, namely palpation and observation. They are also aided by scientific data such as MRI scans, urine tests, blood tests, and X-rays.

2. Osteopaths manipulate bones because they believe that by manipulating bones they can trigger the body’s self-healing mechanism and alleviate pain, discomfort, and even diseases throughout the body.

3. Chiropractors, on the other hand, focus on the spinal column and vertebrae in order to cure illnesses. By adjusting the vertebrae in the proper alignment, chiropractors can provide relief to body pain.

4. Osteopaths employ a wider range of techniques in manipulating bones, and have been known to cure digestive and respiratory diseases as well.

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