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Chiropractic vs Physiotherapy vs Osteopathy

We are often asked how we as chiropractors are different from physiotherapists or osteopaths, we are asked this question so often I thought it best I try and clarify.

  • Firstly all of the professions listed above treat musculoskeletal conditions and the dysfunction or pain associated with that condition.
  • Secondly all of the professions listed above require university training and generally all involve an undergraduate and post graduate (masters) degree, therefore no one can call themselves a physiotherapist/osteopath or chiropractor without the appropriate qualification and registration with the associated national board and AHPRA.

This is a difficult question to answer succinctly mainly due to the fact that within each profession you will see a large variation in how individual practitioners approach patient care and patient recovery.

It is true that chiropractors traditionally focus on spinal dysfunction, but even within the chiropractic profession there is a large spectrum of treatment approaches to different musculoskeletal conditions from “wellness” type care to Sports Chiropractic which begins to draw on aspects of physical therapy. Both variants of Chiropractic have the same base of knowledge but the way in which we approach and the types of patients we attract can be polar opposite, as Sports Chiropractors may take into consideration and treat any dysfunctional structure within the body, whilst a ‘wellness’ practitioner may only be interested in spinal dysfunction and how this may be affecting the body.

If you as a patient had a certain musculoskeletal injury and were to see 10 different physiotherapists you would probably receive 10 completely different treatments, the same goes for osteopathy and chiropractic.

Most practitioners from all professions will try and deal with the same issues presenting with any injury:

  • soft tissue damage and injury
  • joint dysfunction and injury
  • control pain levels
  • rehabilitate the injured tissues to reduce chance of re-occurence and to return patient to full function

So as you can see the difference between Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Physiotherapy cannot simply be described or answered purely in relation to the ‘fundamental philosophy’ of the profession (as within each profession you will see differences), any difference should be assessed at the level of the practitioner as it is the ‘individual philosophy/approach’ that will provide the point of difference.

Here at Synergy Healthcare we like to place ourselves on the sports and functional side of chiropractic care, taking a holistic approach to our patients’ treatment and care, dealing with dysfunctional joints be it spinal or extremity and treating any associated soft tissue injury and pain with the most up to date and evidence based treatment methods. Injury & Exercise rehabilitation is also fundamental to our care, this being enhanced by Dr Kenny’s background in exercise physiology. We endeavour to get you out of pain and back functioning at 100% as soon as possible.

If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact us here at Synergy Healthcare on 02 9522 2125 or via email


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