Difference between an osteopath and a chiropractic illustrated by man pointing to spine

What is the Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

We often hear this question from new patients calling into the clinic — unsure of where to go or who to see for their specific ailment, whether it is lower back pain, a headache, or some musculoskeletal condition. The truth is that BOTH Chiropractors and Osteopaths are excellent options for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Ultimately, it becomes a personal preference.

What Do Chiropractors Do?

Chiropractors receive comprehensive education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of disorders arising from the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints of the body. They utilize a hands-on, manual approach to treatment and assess the patient as a “whole”, rather than a set of individual parts.  

Chiropractors are perhaps best known for spinal manipulative therapy (or spinal ‘adjustments’). At Shift Rehabilitation, our Chiropractors employ a wide variety of treatment techniques in order to suit the individual needs of each patient such as:

  • Acupuncture for the reduction of pain, headache, or poor joint/muscle function.
  • Myofascial Release (Soft Tissue Therapy) to reduce muscle tension and tightness.
  • Graston Technique (Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy) to reduce scar tissue accumulation due to repetitive strain and improve tissue mobility.
  • Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Joint Mobilization techniques for the treatment of poor joint mobility or pain associated with joint dysfunction.
  • Active rehabilitation programs and advice (e.g stretching, strengthening) to promote recovery and prevent future recurrence.
  • Concussion rehabilitation techniques to assist with recovery from a concussion or treat the symptoms of post concussion syndrome.

What Do Osteopaths Do?

Osteopaths also employ a hands-on approach to patient care. Osteopathy is a safe and natural therapy that focuses on the framework of the body: the bones, ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues or fascia. Osteopaths assess the condition of the musculoskeletal system looking for areas of weakness, imbalance or excessive strain. Any potential ‘weak points’ will determine how well the body functions and will have a direct influence on the general health of the whole body.

Osteopaths are trained to source out the ‘root’ of the problem, rather than focusing only on the region of pain. At Shift Rehabilitation, our Osteopaths utilize a variety of treatment techniques including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Cupping therapy to assist in circulation and reduce inflammation
  • Graston technique
  • Diet and Nutrition recommendations to help speed up recovery time
  • Joint mobilization and adjustments to improve joint range of motion
  • Craniosacral therapy to balance the nervous system
  • Active rehabilitation methods
  • Concussion rehabilitation techniques

As you can see, both practitioners utilize similar approaches to patient care! From a ‘big picture’ perspective, there is not a huge difference between osteopaths and chiropractors — however, their approaches will feel very different when you experience them.

Most extended healthcare plans offer coverage for both chiropractic and osteopathy. If you’re still unsure which type of health practitioner is best for you, let us help you make a decision!

At Shift Rehabilitation, we pride ourselves on our interdisciplinary approach to patient management. Our practitioners work as a true team and utilize each other’s expertise in order to maximize patient outcomes. We can recommend which professional is best suited to treat you, based on the type and extent of rehabilitation you may require.

Our Osteopaths:

Scott Haller is our clinic owner and founder of the Shift Concussion Management Program. As such, Scott excels in the assessment and treatment of concussion and headache disorders. He has treated patients from all over Canada and abroad. He is widely known for his work in concussion and the Shift Concussion Management program, a concussion training and educational platform for Healthcare Providers.



Our Chiropractors:

Dr. Kailin Walter has spent the majority of her career training in the area of concussion assessment and management with particular focus on binocular vision disorders in post concussion syndrome. She has been with Shift Concussion Management since its creation and continues to develop and deliver new curriculum for the training platform. She is also trained in the use of contemporary medical acupuncture, Graston technique, and myofascial release. She utilizes a comprehensive approach to her treatment strategies.


Contact us today at (519) 822-2226 or email us to figure out whether an osteopath or a chiropractor is the best fit for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *