What’s the difference between an Osteopath, Physiotherapist and A Chiropractor?

You are not the first person to ask this question!

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between an Osteopath, Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor is – you are not alone! It can be a confusing discussion within the healthcare system so I can only imagine how confusing it can be for patients just looking for help.

The assumption is that the professions are all very different, with various techniques & skill sets. Whilst some subtle differences may exist, the truth is that we are more alike than some (clinicians) might like to admit!


All of the professions are qualified to provide a diagnosis and management plan for musculoskeletal conditions. Credit: 6CO

Education & Qualifications

Each profession is registered and regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Each profession is accredited after completing 4-5 years of education at university.

Each profession consists of a mixture of hands-on treatment and rehabilitative exercise designed to help those in pain.

So, what's the difference?

It’s important to note that ‘Osteo’, ‘Physio’ & ‘Chiro’ are professions – They’re not treatments or treatment styles. Each is qualified to provide diagnosis, management and prevention of musculoskeletal conditions.

In the modern age of evidence-based medicine you’ll start noticing that the best practitioners will all practice in a very similar way. The secret is out – Gone are the days where a 5-10 minute appointment for an “adjustment” is considered optimal health care.

The real difference comes between practitioners, not professions.

The best practitioners get you moving.

The best practitioners build confidence, not fear.

The best practitioners get you off the table, and back to the activities you love.

Avoid somebody who spends the majority of time doing things to you, find yourself a practitioner who empowers you with self-care strategies to look after your own body.

How do you choose the right Osteo, Physio or Chiro?

Choose the person, not the profession. To help find your next Osteopath, Physiotherapist or Chiropractor use this checklist to help guide your decision.

Find a practitioner who:

  • Seems genuine, empathetic and understanding
  • Educates, empowers and builds confidence
  • Works with you to find the right management plan suited to your goals
  • Promotes self-care strategies alongside hands-on treatments
  • Encourages you to ask questions during your appointment.

Do I need private health insurance to see an Osteo, Physio or Chiro?

In short – No.

All practitioners can see both private and public patients.

Your health insurance can provide you with rebates when you visit an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor. Check with your health fund what benefits are available.

Interested in working with an Osteopath?

Book an appointment with Dr Matt Corbin at Six Core Outcomes to help strengthen your body through movement and redefine your limits.


Remove the guesswork from your pain

Stop missing out on doing what you love. Life’s too short. Book an appointment today.