What is the Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

What is the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor? Often we use the terms interchangeably but there is a difference.

The Osteopath

An osteopath, or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O) is a fully licensed medical doctor whose focus is largely on the musculoskeletal system. This system reflects and influences all the other systems.

The Chiropractor

On the other hand, a chiropractor spends two to three years studying to become a licensed practitioner and is more concerned with the alignment of the spine.

The Job of an Osteopath (M.D.)

As an M.D., the osteopath can practice all medical and surgical specialties and can write prescriptions. They are required to have more than 350 hours of training to develop skills in OMT (osteopathic manipulative treatment), which involves applying precise amounts of force to release compression in muscles and joints, promote the normal movement of bodily fluids and tissues, and engage the body’s natural healing abilities.

A Doctor of Osteopathy uses OMT to treat almost anything. This includes chronic conditions like pain, migraines, ear infections, and asthma. OMT can boost the immune system and improve drainage.

A 1999 study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people suffering from lower back pain who were treated with OMT needed less medication and experienced the same reduction in pain. Additionally, range of motion improved with OMT the same as those receiving medication and physical therapy.

In addition to OMT, osteopaths use a greater range of techniques which include stretching, pressure, and Cranial Osteopathy (which focuses of the cranial bones), which all involve subtle adjustments.

The Job of the Chiropractor

Chiropractors usually stick to spinal manipulation and/or controlled force to the joints.


It pays to be informed if you must pick one of the other in order to receive the type of treatment you want.

For  alternative treatment options, see the links below:

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Comments 15 comments

einron profile image

einron 7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Thanks for showing the difference between the two.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks einron - for stopping by!

Bubbles 7 years ago

Thanks for the information. I really appreciate it. I have this problem with my neck and i was trying to figure the best person to see for it and you just helped me with that.

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BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks Bubbles - glad you found the info useful!

backchat profile image

backchat 7 years ago from Camberley, Surrey

Godd article showing some differences bewteen chiropractic and osteopathy.  I just wanted to point out that it is only in the US that Osteopaths are medical doctors.  In the UK and Australia (and elsewhere) Osteopaths are usually state registered in their own rights like Chiropractors are. Not sure about the states but in the UK, Autralia, Europe, NZ chiropractors study for 4-5 years full time to gain a University validated degree - usually at a Masters level.

Chiropractors usually do adjust the spine, however a variety of techniques can be utlised including cranial work. Chiropractors often give lifestyle advice regarding nutrition and exercises if appropriate. Why not check out my hub http://hubpages.com/health/What-does-a-chiropracto... or http://hubpages.com/hub/When-should-I-visit-my-chi...

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Hi backchat - thanks for the information. A chiropractor here would have the same level of education as in the UK, the masters level - the DO would have the equivalent of a PhD and be considered a medical doctor. It seems in the UK nutrition is always stressed while here in the US it seems to be the offering of pharmaceuticals - thus the need for this MD degree.

Will check out your hubs!

Osteopath Melbourne 6 years ago

Good article information about osteopath. Thanks fop making me interesting about the difference about osteopath and chiropractor. Thanks for the great help. Hope to see how it works.

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BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome Osteopath Melbourne. Thank you for writing!

Osteopath Melbourne  6 years ago

Such interesting article about osteopath.. Thanks for the great information... Its a great help... It is my first time here in this site... That is why it calls my attention to visit it again for more source of new information.. Great article..

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks for checking back Osteopath Melbourne. This is of course American medicine so terminology and degrees differ. I'm glad you found the information helpful!

Kelly Mcfarland 5 years ago

Thanks - I liked your hub!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Your welcome - thanks for writing!

restrelax profile image

restrelax 4 years ago from Los angeles CA

I really glad to read this hub information.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you restrelax - glad you liked the hub!

wwolfs 4 years ago

Great information on explaining the difference between chiropractor and Osteopath. I didn't know a Doctor of Osteopathy was a fully licensed medical doctor. Thanks for sharing this information.

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