Chiropractor Versus an Osteopath


Chiropractic care and osteopathic medicine are not the same. While there are similarities between the two, they differ significantly in both their approach and treatment of underlying conditions. Therefore, when deciding on which treatment is best suited to your existing condition, it is best to understand the specifics of these approaches to treatment and prolonged care.

Chiropractic Therapy

In 1895, Daniel Palmer developed the foundation for the current understanding and practice of chiropractic treatment. Focusing on biomechanics, spinal structure and how it all relates to the neurological and musculoskeletal systems, Palmer hypothesized that the body could sustain and restore health as long as the proper function and structure were maintained. Therefore, doctors of chiropractic have a strong belief in spinal health to improve overall health, and they help people achieve this through education and spinal manipulations and adjustments.

Osteopathic Medicine

After losing his three children to spinal meningitis in 1864, a Union Army doctor and surgeon, Andrew Still, established the medical practice now known as osteopathic medicine. Like the future Daniel Palmer, Dr. Still noted an interrelatedness between disease and the musculoskeletal system. However, unlike Palmer, Dr. Still saw a connection and dependence between all systems while maintaining the need for medical intervention to sustain the health of such a relationship.

Extent of Chiropractic Treatment

While all doctors of chiropractic are physician-level practitioners, their approach to medicine is purely holistic. Therefore, chiropractors cannot prescribe medication or perform surgery, and they often won\’t suggest such interventions unless they find a definitive reason for such treatments. While chiropractors may see the value of medicinal therapies, they are often of the belief that many people rely too heavily on medications and pain relievers when consistent therapy could reduce and possibly eliminate chronic pain.

Extent of Osteopathic Treatment

Unlike doctors of chiropractic, osteopathic physicians practice medical and surgical intervention. Osteopaths, while still agreeing with the philosophy of treating the person and not just their symptoms, are medical doctors. Therefore, while they may still perform spinal manipulations and adjustments, they are more focused on a medicinal approach to treatment. Therefore, an osteopathic doctor will probably spend a lot more time diagnosing your condition before suggesting a treatment plan, medication or surgery.

Chiropractor or Osteopath

Choosing the right practitioner depends on your condition. If you suffer from lower back pain or other mild chronic conditions, then a chiropractor may be right. However, if you sustained a sudden injury or are dealing with significant pain daily, an osteopath may be best.

The final verdict is up to you. Both a doctor of chiropractic and an osteopath share similar philosophies, but one practices a holistic approach while the other uses a combination of therapy, medication, and surgery. Contact a chiropractor in Takoma Park, MD or osteopath for further clarification.

Thanks to AmeriWell Clinics for their insight into chiropractic care and osteopathic care.