What is the Difference Between Osteopathy & Physiotherapy?

March 31, 2022

For many people, trying to figure out the difference between osteopathy and physiotherapy is like trying to work out the difference between jam and jelly. And given the Oxford Dictionary’s definitions of osteopathy vs physiotherapy, you could be forgiven for struggling to differentiate the two professions:

Osteopathy: A system of complementary medicine involving the treatment of medical disorders through the manipulation and massage of the skeleton and musculature.

Physiotherapy: The treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery.

Both disciplines have been around since the 19th Century, and both require similar levels of training in anatomy, physiology, pathology and hands-on techniques.

On the spectrum of muscles vs. joints, where massage therapists are firmly in the “muscle” camp and chiropractors are firmly in the “joints” camp, osteopaths and physiotherapists both reside somewhere in the middle.


Physiotherapy vs osteopathy

Physiotherapy helps people who are recovering from an injury or living with an illness/disability, through a tailored combination of physical exercise, manual therapy and verbal advice on lifestyle choices.

Osteopathy, on the other hand, revolves around the structure and function of the entire body. It aims to increase joint mobility, relieve muscle tension and enhance blood/nerve supply through physical manipulation, stretching and massage. An osteopath’s goal is to activate your body’s own healing mechanisms to promote a healthy musculoskeletal condition, along with your ligaments and connective tissues.


Where do I go – osteo or physio?

The holistic approach of osteopathy can often be beneficial if you’re experiencing issues with muscles and joints in various parts of your body. For instance, an osteopath might treat your diaphragm to alleviate lower back pain, or treat your ankle to reduce soreness/stiffness in your hip.

By considering the interrelationship of your nervous system, muscular system and psychological factors, an osteopath can examine and diagnose issues with your bones, joints, muscles, nerves and soft tissue. From here, they can develop a tailored program for managing your condition and improving your day-to-day quality of life over time.

At Essendon Natural Health, this is how our osteopaths go about providing treatment for patients. We evaluate and diagnose musculoskeletal issues on a patient-by-patient basis, and work closely alongside you to create a pathway towards improved flexibility and increased strength in the affected areas.


Book a consultation

Our beautiful heritage-listed clinic in Essendon provides a variety of holistic natural health treatments, including osteopathy, naturopathy, massage and acupuncture.

If you feel that you would benefit from our personalised osteopathy treatment services, book a consultation online today. For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Robert Gentile

B.C.M (Hons), C.Clin.Prac (China), C.Toyohari. Registered Acupuncturist and Herbalist. Integrative Natural Medicine Practitioner.

Robert is a passionate and warm practitioner who has an extensive knowledge of integrative and functional natural medicine. He is down to earth and has an interest in organic foods, gardening and sustainable living. With over a decade of experience, he is renowned for being very thorough by both fellow practitioners and patients alike.