What’s the Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor
What’s the Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

Both chiropractors and osteopaths are medical practitioners who manipulate your body to treat a variety of problems. While they address similar ailments, they are not trained to prescribe medications or treat the same conditions.   

After completing their undergraduate studies, osteopathic physicians pursue a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree at osteopathic medical school. They undergo three to eight years of practical training in a clinical setting after graduating from medical school. They also need to obtain a state licence and pass a board certification exam.

These experts investigate the functioning of all bodily systems as well as the body as a whole. In addition to receiving specific instruction on the skeletal system, muscles, and nerves, they also learn how to assess a patient's environment and way of life to tailor treatment. Meds can be prescribed by osteopaths. During treatment, they could do bodily manipulation and stretching.

After graduating from college, chiropractors pursue a four-year doctor of chiropractic degree. They have to obtain a licence from the state and pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam.

By manually adjusting muscles and bones, frequently in the spine, they concentrate on treating the full body. These therapies, known as adjustments, can involve pressure, stretching, or a fast hand push to realign a joint.

This is a quick comparison between chiropractors and osteopaths:

Titledoctor of osteopathy (DO)doctor of chiropractic (DC)
Trainingcollege, osteopathic medical school, 3–8 years of clinical trainingcollege and 4 years of specialized study
Treatment stylestretching and body manipulation along with imaging and medicationmuscle and joint manipulation to realign the spine and maintain healthy nerves
Certificationboard certified and state licensedboard certified and state licensed
Prescribing privilegescan prescribe medicationsbut cannot prescribe medications

What does an osteopath do?

Osteopaths think that treating environmental or lifestyle variables that may be contributing to an illness is just as important as treating its symptoms. They undergo specialised training in the neurological and musculoskeletal systems of the body, as well as in the manipulation of joints and muscles to relieve pain and restore movement. To identify illnesses and administer care, they also make use of drugs, imaging, and other scientific developments.

Conditions they treat

Although they treat a wide range of ailments, osteopaths are most recognised for their work with musculoskeletal disorders, which include:
  • back pain
  • arthritis
  • tendinopathies
  • tennis elbow
  • frozen shoulder

What does a chiropractor do?

To release pinched nerves, repair damaged nerve tissue, and relieve pain, chiropractors gently adjust and quickly apply pressure to the spine and other joints.

Conditions they treat

Chiropractors typically handle conditions relating to the skeletal or muscular systems. These could consist of:
  • low back pain
  • headache
  • neck pain
  • sciatica
Some chiropractors may claim to cure other ailments including menstruation cramps or high blood pressure. The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health states that, nevertheless, no evidence supports the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for ailments unrelated to the musculoskeletal system.

How to find a professional near you

You can look up an osteopath in your area using a database maintained by the American Osteopathic Association.

On its website, the American Chiropractic Association also has a searchable database.

To find a healthcare provider nearby, use the city or ZIP code fields on each website.


Are an osteopath and a chiropractor the same?

An osteopath is different from a chiropractor in that they are more concerned with the entire body, whereas a chiropractor focuses exclusively on the spine, joints, and muscles.

Where does a chiropractor work?

Most of the time, chiropractors operate in offices. Most of the time, chiropractors operate in offices. Long stretches of standing may be required while lifting or turning patients.


Both osteopathy and chiropractic adjustments aim to manipulate the muscles and bones of the patient's body back to a state free from illness or injury.

Starting with their educational backgrounds, osteopaths and chiropractors differ from one another.

While a chiropractor attends a specialised chiropractic programme, a doctor of osteopathy attends medical school. After medical school, an osteopath will complete three to eight years of clinical training.

Chiropractors and osteopathic physicians both manipulate the skeleton and muscles.

Chiropractors treat head, neck, and back problems with a greater emphasis on the spine. In addition to treating a wide range of illnesses, osteopaths also manipulate the body to correct alignment and reduce discomfort.

Chiropractors are not allowed to dispense medication, however, osteopaths may serve as primary care physicians in certain situations.

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