We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Difference between Osteopathy and Physiotherapy?

By Marlene de Wilde
Updated Feb 10, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Osteopathy and physiotherapy have evolved to treat many of the same conditions but use different approaches according to different ideologies. Physiotherapy is a symptom-specific approach while osteopathy views the body as interconnected and so is concerned with the system rather than just the symptom. Both approaches are hands-on and massage oriented with slight differences.

Osteopathy is more of a hands-on approach with techniques such as gentle touch and pressure, massage and manipulation. Osteopaths may also incorporate acupuncture as well as give lifestyle advice. While massage is an important part of the physiotherapy approach, it is more oriented towards the correction of incorrect movements and rehabilitative exercise programs. The use of ultrasound is common to both osteopathy and physiotherapy.

A further difference between osteopathy and physiotherapy is that osteopaths are primary health care givers while physiotherapists are supplementary to medical practitioners. Osteopaths are diagnosticians first and then are able to treat musculoskeletal dysfunctions taking into account any psychological or social factors they feel may play a part in the condition they are diagnosing. The most common role of the physiotherapist is to evaluate and manage conditions that have already been diagnosed by a doctor, and patients are more likely to see a physiotherapist after referral by their doctor. Osteopaths are trained to understand and diagnose the pathology of the disease, whereas pathologists may not fully understand the pathology but are trained to treat it.

Both osteopaths and physiotherapists take a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination to determine the right treatment path. A well known technique applied by osteopaths is manipulation, in which a characteristic clicking can be heard and visceral and cranial osteopathy are two other applications used to relieve imbalances and dysfunctions throughout the body. Osteopaths believe the cause of pain and discomfort in one area may be located in another area of the body and so treat the individual rather than the symptom.

Physiotherapists use manipulation only after taking a post-graduate course, whereas osteopaths undergo two years of training in this technique. Physiotherapy is more likely to incorporate therapeutic and training exercises, electro-therapeutic and mechanical intervention as well as education and counseling. The aim is to treat the symptom but there is also an emphasis on fitness and quality of life. The end results of courses of osteopathy and physiotherapy treatment are most likely the same, despite the different approaches to the dysfunction that inspired them.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.