Featured image Posted on Tuesday 23, January, 2024

Who should I see – an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor?

One of the most common questions we are asked is ‘what is the difference between an osteopath, a physiotherapist and a chiropractor?’ followed by ‘who should I see?’

It’s a big question and often answered by more questions. You are not only looking at three different allied health professions, you are looking at many personalities, attitudes, philosophies, strengths and methodologies within each.

On the surface all three professions generally seek to provide a solution to your pain, specifically back pain, neck pain, sporting injuries, headaches, migraines, lifting injuries and more. Each profession, however, has a distinct philosophy on how best to work with you to resolve your problem or injury.

In addition to understanding each philosophy, you may have a preference for what you want in a health profession – whether it be the techniques they use, the way they communicate, referrals, location, environment, support staff, experience or style.

Spring Osteo is an osteopathic clinic and we can confidentially explain what osteopaths do, our qualifications and our philosophies.  We have not studied nor practised as chiropractors or physiotherapists so we can not personally describe these practitioners or treatments. However, to assist in your search we did some research and found:


What: Chiropractic is a health care discipline based on the scientific premise that the body is a self-regulating, self-healing organism.

How: Chiropractors aim to improve nervous system function primarily through chiropractic adjustments (with particular attention to the spine, skull and pelvis), to help remove any interference that may be impairing normal health.

Where: Chiropractors generally work in private practice

Qualifications and registration: Australian chiropractors are five year university trained, and are government registered and regulated health professionals.


What: Physiotherapy is a clinical health science and profession that aims to rehabilitate and improve people with movement disorders.

How: Physiotherapists use evidence-based, natural methods such as exercise, motivation, adapted equipment, education and advocacy.

Where: Physiotherapists works in health care systems in hospitals and private practice in the community.

Qualifications and registration: All physiotherapists in Australia are required to be registered by law. Registration as a physiotherapist is only possible after completion of a university degree in physiotherapy or health sciences with a physiotherapy course.


What: Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine which recognises the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions.

How: Osteopaths treat all kinds of joint or muscular pain and more. We take a holistic approach to your treatment by reviewing your direct problem area as well as assessing your whole body and lifestyle including your diet, type of work and sporting activities.  This helps us to understand the cause of your problem and assist with immediate and long-term relief; preventative solutions; and pain management skills.

We use our hands to treat you.  We work with your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons using a combination of stretch, massage, pressure point and manipulation techniques to promote mobility and restore your body’s balance.  Generally you would expect to see some changes to your condition within a couple of visits.

Where: Osteopaths generally work in private practice

Qualifications and registration: Australian osteopaths are five year university trained, and are government registered and regulated health professionals.


Once the fundamental differences between the three medical professions are understood, we suggest you select an individual practitioner from your preferred profession who is trusted, knowledgeable and friendly and can provide the best quality treatment for your injury. Some things worth considering include:

  • Does the practitioner have post-graduate qualifications such as a PHD or Masters?
  • Is the practitioner a member of their association?
  • Do they have a particular area of interest that aligns with your needs?
  • Have you seen the practitioner before and did you achieve a positive outcome in an appropriate time frame?
  • Have your friends or family had a good experience from the clinic or practitioner?
  • If you are already seeing the practitioner, is your condition getting better, staying better? Has the practitioner given you a guide as to how long it will take for positive changes to be seen?
  • Does the clinic require or recommend upfront payment packages?
  • Will the practitioner be treating more than one patient at a time?
  • How long is an initial consultation?
  • How long is a follow-up consultation?
  • What is the cost for an initial consultation and follow-up consultations?
  • Are you able to claim on private health insurance?
  • Are there HICAPS facilities at the clinic?

Once all the available information is considered, ultimately, you must choose what is right for you and your condition. What we can say is 50,000 Australians visit an osteopath every week – we invite you to make an appointment with us and find out what osteopathy can do for you.

To find out more: homepage | book online | 03 9830 7044





For further information, please contact:
Spring Osteo Clinic
2/486 Whitehorse Road, Surrey Hills Vic
+61 3 9830 7044
[email protected]
Get social @springosteo

About Spring Osteo Clinic

Spring Osteo offers osteopathy, clinical exercise, Pilates and remedial massage to assist with muscle and joint pain.  We have five osteopaths, Dr Amir Nasser, Dr Sarah Lawson, Dr Sam Baker, Dr Angus Macquire and Dr Nick Harrison available to treat your muslce and joint pain, back, neck, headaches, migraines, sports injuries, pregnancy pain and postural related pain. Jing Ma is our remedial therapist and Catherine O’Donnell is our Pilates instructor. www.springosteo.com.au

We offer onsite and virtual appointments
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Our location

Shop 2, 486 Whitehorse Road Surrey Hills vic 3127
Open: Monday–Friday 7.30am–8pm, Saturday 7.30am–1pm