What Is the Difference Between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath?

Most people are familiar with chiropractors. Osteopaths are not quite as well known. While they are both trained extensively in their profession after four years of undergraduate study, they both use manipulation in their therapies and both deal with health and wellness, that is where the similarities end.

Doctor of Osteopathy

Osteopathy, founded in the 1870s, is a holistic approach to healthcare. It is centered on the relationship between the musculoskeletal system and overall health. They understand the impact of illness or injury in one part of the body on the whole person. Osteopaths often use osteopathic manipulative treatment to restore healthy balance to the body. OMT involves using the hands to gently press, stretch or apply resistance to the spine or other parts of the body to restore range of motion.

Approximately 25% of medical students are planning to become osteopaths. An osteopath is a medical doctor that can choose their area of practice, just like an MD. They have all rights to hospitals as MDs and can also prescribe medication. Education requirements are four years of medical school after receiving an undergraduate degree. After medical school, they must work first as interns then residents. Others will then serve as fellows for three to eight more years in their preferred field.

Doctor of Chiropractic

Chiropractic treatment has been around since 1895. Like osteopathy, it is a holistic approach to healthcare with a focus on how the spine can affect the overall body and health. Chiropractors, like a chiropractor from AmeriWell Clinics, also use manipulation to adjust the spine to restore alignment. Although they must go through extensive education and training, they do not have hospital privileges and cannot prescribe medicine.

Chiropractic college is a four to five-year program that comes after much or all of an undergraduate course of study. They do not have a residency. Instead, as the students gain more knowledge, they spend at least one year working with patients under supervision. They must pass a four-part exam administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners before also passing state exams. They must also complete a required amount of continuing education each year.

If you would like to receive treatment for pain or limited range of motion focused on wellness, both DOs and DCs may be good choices for you. If you have other underlying conditions, are on medication or may need different medication, you may want to consult a Doctor of Osteopathy.