Chiropractic and Osteopathy 

Chiropractors and osteopaths represent different schools or disciplines of physical therapy. Chiropractic and osteopathy are both manipulation-based therapies used for treating problems associated with bones, joints and the back. The two therapies have much in common, but chiropractors tend to focus on the joints of the spine, and the nervous system. Osteopaths (D.O.s) put equal emphasis on the joints, surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Both chiropractic or osteopaths believe that many health problems can be caused by poor posture and misalignment of muscles and joints (with chiropractic, it is particularly spine). They suggest that if the structure of the body is improved and the spine put back into alignment, the function of the body improves, problems will be alleviated and good health will be restored. Thus, osteopaths and chiropractors view the body as a self-contained, self-healing, fully interconnected unit.

The first proponent of this philosophy, Andrew Taylor Still, is credited to found osteopathy in America in 1874. 21 years later, Daniel David Palmer, a former student of Dr. Still, founded the chiropractic discipline (*). The differences between osteopathy and chiropractic stem from a rather subtle variance in philosophy.

Are they effective?

While osteopathy and chiropractic are well accepted by many conventional medical practitioners, the scientific evidence for them is relatively sparse. Very few medical studies have compared the two therapies with each other. The evidence may be stronger for chiropractic than osteopathy, with some studies showing that chiropractic may be effective for short-term pain relief in acute low back pain.
There have also been several studies of spinal manipulation and mobilisation techniques (by osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists and MDs) for lower back pain. They suggest that the techniques, do provide short-term relief from pain, and improvement in mobility.


(*) Barrie Savory. The Good Back Guide (London: Century), 2006.

Any comment about this page?
Your feedback is appreciated. Please click here.

Follow & Share Scientific Spine  Bookmark and Share Subscribe

To join Scientific Spine mailing list, click here.

You are here: Scientific Spine > Miscellaneous > Chiropractic and Osteopathy