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What is the difference between a Chiropractor, Osteopath and Physiotherapist

When it comes to picking the right professional for your physical health needs, many people ask, ‘What is the difference between a Chiropractor, Osteopath and Physiotherapist? Who should I see for my problem?’ In this article, we try to help you answer that question.

Here at Weald Chiropractic & Wellness, we have the utmost respect for all three of these professions. Here in the UK, Chiropractors, Osteopaths & Physiotherapists are regulated by statute and trained to undergraduate level as a minimum and specialising in the human frame and movement. 

Traditionally there are differences between chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists, so let’s take a look at these.


Chiropractors are known as specialists in musculoskeletal health, and they focus on correcting imbalances in the body’s structure through specific manual adjustments of the spine

These adjustments enable improved biomechanical function of the spinal joints that aid in restoring nerve function, which can lead to improved mobility and decreased sensitivity of the neurological tissue helping with pain relief. 

Treatments may include manipulation, mobilisation, soft tissue treatment (massage) and exercises. Chiropractors are also trained to take & read X-rays which may be indicated in certain circumstances. Chiropractors are also experts in posture, biomechanics and well-versed in nutrition, lifestyle and exercise advice.


Osteopaths are also specialists in musculoskeletal health & their therapeutic approach has more similarities to a chiropractor than differences. They are not trained in radiography or radiology but can easily request imaging if it is deemed necessary. 

They use a combination of massage, stretching & manipulative methods to treat & will also provide advice about diet & exercise habits. 

The treatment couch used by an osteopath or chiropractor will differ in that a chiropractor’s bench may include ‘drop’ pieces that move when a chiropractic adjustment is made.   


Physiotherapy is a more broad-based training. They work with a diverse spectrum of conditions, including post-operative rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation & respiratory conditions. 

Therefore, if you choose to see a physiotherapist for back or musculoskeletal pain, ensure you choose one with a special interest in the musculoskeletal system & spine. Traditionally, physiotherapists are less ‘hands-on’ with their treatment of back & musculoskeletal pain, using more exercise-based approaches. 

Physiotherapists can also give advice on posture or ergonomics at work or home, depending on the patient’s individual needs.


When it comes to choosing between a chiropractor, an osteopath or a physiotherapist in Horsham – this is the advice to follow.

  • Check that the chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist is registered with either the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), or for physiotherapists, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Use a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist that has been recommended by a family member, friend or GP.  If you have yet to be given a recommendation, look at their websites for reviews from trusted sources such as Google & Facebook. For example, here at Weald Chiropractic & Wellness, we have a page on our website specifically to show all of our reviews so you can read what our patients say about how we have been able to help them.
  • Finally, ask questions! Call and talk to the clinic before you make an initial appointment – we are always happy to talk about health & wellbeing!
James Bennett
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    Unit 29 Graylands Estate, Langhurst Wood Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 4QD

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