Osteopathy vs. Physiotherapy?

There are many different opinions on this question. But is it really possible to give a clear answer? Is one better than the other?

My customers have asked me this question countless times. My answer is: “I can’t tell.” Or: “If you tell me what osteopathy is, then I will tell you if I am currently working osteopathically.”

As so often in life, there are very radical views on what osteopathy/physiotherapy is/is and should not be. Even in the respective trainings and courses of studies, the difference has been pointed out massively and yet commonalities cannot be denied.

So before asking what is better, I would ask: “Why not use the best of two worlds?

Both therapies have their advantages.

A fundamental difference of physiotherapy is definitely the active therapy. And for me it is not possible without active therapy. Adequately loading the body and thus causing an adaptation reaction of the tissue is important for many disease patterns.

An example:
A person with osteoporosis (bone loss) can achieve a densification of the bone material by loading the bones with strength training. The bone loss is thus treated by adapting to the stimulus load. (Westcott, 2012)

Osteopathy, on the other hand, is based on the holistic view of the body. It is strongly influenced by the medical trend of the “bone-setters” at the beginning of the 19th century. Their highest goal was to align all parts of the body correctly. This results in perfect health. (Weins, 2015) This strongly biomechanically loaded model of thinking has the most effects especially on the neurological and psychological level. For example, manual treatments release substances in the body that can modulate inflammatory processes (Injeyan et al., 2006), or spinal manipulations influence reflex arches that can inhibit pain (Sparks et al., 2013).

At ostejo, therefore, the intervention is geared to the respective goal of the patient. Thus, physiotherapeutic as well as osteopathic techniques can be applied in a single treatment. The choice is influenced by:

Sparks C, Cleland JA, Elliott JM, Zagardo M, Liu WC. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine if cerebral hemodynamic responses to pain change following thoracic spine thrust manipulation in healthy individuals. J. Orthop. Sports Phys. Ther. 2013;43(5):340–348.

Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, Injeyan HS, Ruegg R. Spinal manipulative therapy reduces inflammatory cytokines but not substance p production in normal subjects. J. Manipulative Physiol. Ther. 2006;29(1):14–21.

Weins U. Einführung in die Osteopathie. IAO Skript. 2015.

Westcott WL. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012;11(4): 2009-2016.