The Difference between an Osteopath and a Physiotherapist

If you have been injured or needed help with an area of your body that was not responding well, you have probably looked for specialised help and found out that there are different options; a Chiropodist for your feet, a Chiropractor for your back etc. Maybe you have even used the services of a physiotherapist and/or an osteopath and have wondered what the difference between these specialists is. While both of them deal with traumas and the well-being of your body, there is a conceptual difference between osteopathy and physiotherapy and below you will find some of the main points of difference.

While both osteopaths and physiotherapists train a long time – 3 to 5 years – to obtain their bachelor degree and the right to treat, there are some differences in the treatment itself that makes one of them more appropriate than the other in a specific situation. Presently, physiotherapists are more common, especially in the UK, where the General Practitioners and surgeons often refer patients to them. The main conceptual difference between the osteopath and the physiotherapist is that the former is trained to diagnose, while the latter evaluates.

The Osteopath uses their hands to find problems with the body and treat them as a part of the whole organism. They will usually focus not only on the troublesome area, but also on your posture, on your training and walking habits, diet and lifestyle. The osteopath will try to heal you in a way that will prevent future traumas, injuries or problems at all. With their help, you will find out about abnormalities in your body structure you have never known you have, and you will get rid of them. In addition, as mentioned above, the osteopath is trained to diagnose, so if you visit them with a complaint, they will find the source of the problem and will explain its pathology.

On the other hand, the pathologist does not have to diagnose. They know beforehand what the problem with your body is, because you have been referred to them by another specialist, who has already diagnosed you. So, the Physiotherapist will immediately start to treat the problem area of your body. For example, if you have broken your leg, you will be sent to a specialist who will know what the problem is and will help you recover faster with a series of stretches, manipulation, exercises (even such that you will need to practice at home on your own), electrotherapy, hydrotherapy and ultrasound. Generally, physiotherapy is more related to the traditional medicine.

In a nutshell, both a physiotherapist and an osteopath can help you with various traumas and conditions. Sometimes one of these specialist is more appropriate than the other. In other cases, you can choose for yourself depending on your preferences. If you are not injured and you just want to improve your performance and overall musculoskeletal system features, you may visit an osteopath for help and advice. If you are concerned about an old trauma that is causing you trouble again, a physiotherapist may be able to help. If you are not sure which is the best option for you, consult with your GP or physiotherapist practice.