29 January 2020

Chiropractor, Osteopath, Sports Therapist: What’s The Difference?

The scenario: your back has seized up. Probably doing something not too impressive.

When you experience back pain – especially if it’s the first time – it’s really hard to know who to turn to for support and to how understand what help you actually need.

Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Sports Therapists, Physiotherapists – there are a number of back care professionals you can turn to, but how do you choose? 


Chiropractors specialise in assessing, diagnosing and treating problems with the spine.

They use hands-on techniques to manually manipulate joints (called adjustments) when they’re not moving properly to free them up which creates the ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ noise which many people associate with chiropractic care.


Osteopaths take more of a ‘whole-body’ approach to care, looking to promote the bones, muscles, connective tissues and joints working harmoniously together to achieve wellbeing.

They use their hands to palpate areas of the body to diagnose tension or areas of weakness, and then apply techniques such as massage and stretching to treat pain.

Sports Therapy and physiotherapy

Sports Therapists and physiotherapists specialise in musculoskeletal disorders and aim to maximise movement, reduce pain and improve quality of life.

Both types of practitioner use hands on treatment such as massage and stretching, as well as rehbailitation exercises and client education and the focus is very much based around returining the client to full function to carry out daily activities without pain. Sports therapists specialise in returning clients to exercise or sport, and physiotherapists have more of a medical background.

Many practitioners also work in conjunction with each other. For example an osteopath may refer to a physio or sports therapist for exercise rehabilitation, or a sports therapist may work with a chiropractor to help with the mobility of a client’s spine.

Deciding which type of practitioner to see usually comes down to personal choice. All are experts in back pain, but you should think about the type of injury you have, what kind of treatment you feel comfortable with and what your end goal is. 

If your back is feeling sore and stiff and you would like to speak to a specialist sports therapist for an assessment and to discuss whether sports therapy is suitable, we would like to invite you to a complimentary 60-minute consultation. To register, click here, complete the form and we’ll be in touch to make your booking.