What’s the Difference Between Physiotherapy and Osteopathy?


If you suffer from a chronic condition, experience ongoing pain, or are recovering from a sports injury or difficult surgery, then chances are that you’ve been recommended every specialist in the book. Everyone you talk to will have different opinions on the best form of treatment. But, for many of us, it can be hard to know what differentiates similar practices like osteopathy and physiotherapy. To make things a little easier, we’ve outlined the similarities and differences between these two treatments, to hopefully help you understand the right appointment to book. 

This blog is a beginner’s guide to physiotherapy and osteopathy treatments, detailing their techniques and the conditions best suited to their treatments. For personalised health advice, contact 13th Beach Health Services today. 

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy treats injuries, diseases, and ongoing pain through natural physical techniques. The main purpose of the practice is to improve overall body mobility through a variety of treatments to the musculoskeletal system, using and manipulating the natural structures of the body to reduce pain, stiffness, and rehabilitate injuries or disorders.  

Physiotherapists use treatment methods such as exercises, focused stretching, massages, dry needling, and other natural methods. Often a physiotherapist will aim to provide their patients with exercise routines to further their treatment from home, allowing them to work independently on their recovery or rehabilitation. 

The Conditions Physiotherapists Treat 

Physiotherapists work with a wide range of people. If you’re suffering from muscle pain, a sports-related injury, posture issues, or are recovering from surgery, seeing a physiotherapist may be a beneficial treatment option.  

Physios will often work with athletes, as they are well-versed in rehabilitation after an injury and can help get an athlete recover from a physical setback. With a variety of physios working with different specialties, this treatment can be used to help conditions such as: 

  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Stroke recovery 
  • Spinal cord injuries 
  • Neurological, musculoskeletal, or respiratory conditions that are damaging overall mobility 
  • Pregnancy-related physical concerns 

How is Osteopathy Different?

In contrast, osteopathy takes a far more holistic approach to treatment of the body. Whilst comparable to physiotherapy, osteopathy places for more importance on the soft tissues of the body and how they can be used to treat chronic conditions and injuries.  

Osteopaths equip a form of manual therapy that aims to approach the whole body in regards to diagnosing and treating specific problems. They will manipulate and assess muscles, connective tissue, bones, and the overall complex systems of the body for treatment, aiming to achieve full balance throughout the body. 

Osteopaths will use techniques such as: soft tissue massages, targeted stretching, exercising of specific joints, massages for release techniques, manipulation of the body, and overall education as to how the interconnectedness of the body may be affecting your condition or injury. 

When Osteopathy is Best Used

Osteopaths are trained and experienced in treating a number of different conditions. One benefit of working with an osteopath is that they are able to assess any ongoing pain or problems you may have and examine what the root cause may be, taking your entire body and overall health into consideration to ensure that they find and treat the very source of your issues. A few common conditions osteopaths treat include: 

  • Headaches and migraines 
  • Neck pain 
  • Shoulder pain 
  • Lower and upper back pain 
  • Work-related injuries
  • Sporting injuries 
  • Pregnancy pain 
  • Joint and muscle immobility  
  • Soreness throughout joints and muscles 
  • Pain related to neurological conditions 

Contact 13th Beach Health Services to Discuss Treatment Options

Whilst they differ in many ways, both physiotherapy and osteopathy aim to treat conditions with natural, non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical techniques where possible. If you think either a physio or an osteo could be helping to treat your pain, the sooner you book an appointment the better your recovery will be. For more specific guidance as to what form of treatment works best for you, or to discuss whether a hybrid form of rehabilitation my work, talk to an expert.  

At 13th Beach Health Services, our team is ready to help you manage your pain or ongoing conditions. Call us today or book your physiotherapy or osteopathy appointment online, or simply chat with us about what is going to work best for your body. 



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