How is Osteopathy Different from Physical Therapy?
A doctor performing some physical therapy exercises on her patient

Who knows the main difference between physical therapy and osteopathy, of which reliable service is offered at the osteopath Ashford Kent. It is a commonly asked question hence we thought it would be a good topic to plunge into more details about.

Physiotherapy OR Physical Therapy:

When Per Henrik Ling, known as the “Father of Swedish Gymnastics,” established the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics in 1813, he promoted the application of massage, manipulation, & exercise. This is when physiotherapy first emerged. In 1887, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare formally registered physiotherapists. Shortly thereafter, other nations started to do the same, and physical therapy saw rapid growth in both the US and New Zealand. Physiotherapy started to expand outside of hospitals in the late 1950s, finding a home in geriatric options, universities, outpatient orthopaedic clinics, and rehabilitation centres, among medical facilities.


The 19th century witnessed the birth of osteopathy through the efforts of Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician. Dr Andrew was an advocate of using the musculoskeletal system to treat various diseases so that the clients would not need to take the unfavourable side effects of the drugs. This idea is about the osteopathic principle that the body has its self-healing mechanisms that work with its healing capacity. Osteopathy is called so from the Greek words osteon, which is a synonym for bone, with pathos, which means suffering. The concept that disease and physiological problems could be associated with the musculoskeletal system is confirmed by the name osteopathy.

What Distinguishes Physical Therapy from Osteopathy?

We examine the differences between osteopathy and physical therapy now that we have an improved knowledge of the field.  The two fields have more characteristics than not as they are both concerned with musculoskeletal discomfort and practical therapies.  Additionally, physiotherapists & osteopaths receive significant education in anatomy, physiology, and pathology.


The expertise and education of the particular therapist are going to have a significant impact on the kind of care you get. The majority of physiotherapists combine “hands-on” care with exercise-based therapy (rehabilitation). “Hands-on” or manual physical therapy refers to methods that are used on your joints and muscles to increase your range of motion and flexibility. It is quite rare that a physiotherapist you meet won’t provide you with an at-home workout regimen. These activities are a crucial component of most therapy regimens and aim to cement the gains you have made during treatment sessions.

Osteopaths also provide “hands-on” treatments, however, they might not balance this with practices you can do in between appointments, which increases your dependence on their “hands-on” care. While individual clinicians can vary in this regard, physiotherapists are more likely than osteopaths to incorporate practices into their treatment regimens. Exercise based physical therapy has become a well-established component of any back issue treatment programme, according to a substantial body of research. 


Different training is required for each occupation.  During their four years of study, osteopaths receive more than 2,000 hours of tough training.  Osteopaths who have undergone this education are better able to palpate, which is the ability to perceive or feel the condition of tissues or systems throughout an examination.  Because their training emphasises musculoskeletal health, osteopaths are skilled at manipulating joints and the spine.  Additionally, osteopaths might specialise in women’s health, paediatrics, cranial, and visceral health. During their three years of education, physiotherapists often complete rotations in musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, & respiratory training. The training of physiotherapists is sometimes less “hands-on” than that of osteopaths.  Physiotherapists are trained in providing rehabilitation exercise-based treatment and adhering to treatment procedures. 

The Professions’ Underpinning Philosophies:

Osteopaths approach their treatment with the belief that the human body “is a whole,” with interrelated systems and a self-healing process.  On the other hand, physical therapy tends to fall in line with conventional Western medicine, which places more of an emphasis on treating the issue in question location rather than the body as a whole. 

What Is Included In Osteopathic Treatment?

By improving joint mobility, releasing muscular tension, and improving the blood pressure & nerve supply to tissues, osteopathic therapy addresses the “whole body.”  The idea is the fact that by using these procedures, the body’s healing systems may assist recover its full functionality.  These methods might involve acupuncture, stretching, joint manipulation, soft tissue massage, & more.  Additionally, osteopaths can provide you with medical guidance and posture-correcting workout recommendations.  Each therapy is an all-inclusive method which is created to satisfy the patients to achieve a balance for their body. Osteopathy deals with patients of all ages, like from children to the old, with specialised treatment for athletes, mothers-to-be, and other conditions.

A girl holding her back with both hands performing some physical therapy


Both physiotherapists and osteopaths treat certain conditions which are very similar, but they don’t always use the same treatment plan or they may not have the same reasons for using a certain method. There are a lot more similarities between the two professions than the differences they have. Both fields of work can deal with many musculoskeletal problems and issues since they’ve been trained and had the experience. The choice between seeing a physiotherapist or an osteopath essentially boils down to personal taste and what could be the most effective course of action for the particular patient.

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