Difference Between Chiropractor and Osteopath

Chiropractors and osteopaths are both medical professionals focusing their work on neuromusculoskeletal disorders, which are related to the nervous system, skeletal system, and muscles. These professions are quite indistinguishable when looking at them from the surface of their fields. Both these professions are recognized as “holistic healers” but the approaches they use are quite different. These two professions are frequently confused as the other because when it comes to their principles and practice a “grey area” exists. However, there are noticeable differences too.


Chiropractors are trained medical doctors addressing problems related to neuromusculoskeletal system. They treat back pains, strains, neck pains, headaches, sporting injuries, accident injuries, and also arthritis. Any disease related to bones, muscles, spine, ligaments, tandems etc. can be addressed by chiropractors. The origin of chiropractors actually branched from osteopaths. Chiropractic care was invented by Dr. D.D. Palmer in 1895 who was a student of Dr. A. Taylor; inventor of osteopathy.

Chiropractors believe that accidents or tensions body experiences, which are not in the tolerant capacity of the spine, result in minute displacements and rearrangements in the skeletal system (vertebrae and nerve-muscular connections) that eventually cause direct or indirect pressure on nerve ends, causing pain in joints, back, and other areas. A chiropractor would visually examine or use x-ray to examine the problematic area and perform therapy or even “click back” a joint to adjust it correctly. Chiropractic care is time consuming and the patient may have to pay 12-24 visits or even more in a year to recover fully. Apart from that other non-surgical techniques to manipulate and mobilize joints or spine are also used by chiropractors.


Osteopaths are also trained medical professionals working on disorders related to nervous, muscle, and skeletal systems. They also treat people suffering from pains and injuries related to these systems. In addition, their work is also focused on healing other disorders, which may have initiated indirectly due to displacements, damages occurred in the skeletal system that are now affecting the nervous system at a different location.

Osteopathy is older than chiropractic care. It was invented by Dr. Andrew Taylor in 1872. Osteopaths also use manipulative and mobilizing techniques and instead of “clicking back” a joint like a chiropractor does, they more or less try to increase or change the mobility of a joint in a stepwise manner. Although their process is stepwise, they take less time to cure a patient than chiropractors. Since they also use prescriptions and surgery as a part of their occupation, osteopaths are considered as mainstream doctors.

What is the difference between Chiropractor and Osteopath?

• Chiropractors belong to a specialty, but osteopaths belong to a medical philosophy.

• Chiropractors believe a lot of problems can be solved by slight adjustments done to the skeletal system, but osteopaths believe that the whole body should be considered as a unit when treatments are done and give great attention to the skeletal system, as well.

• A chiropractor’s field of work is highly specialized while an osteopath is considered as a physician who belongs to the mainstream medicine.

• A chiropractor and an osteopath receive very different educations, and an osteopath receives more education in certain fields.