Osteopathy vs Physiotherapy in London: Which is Best?

osteopathy and physiotherapy london Physiotherapy in London

Osteopathy and physiotherapy London clinics are in no short supply across the capital. Many clinics, including One Body LDN, offer both physiotherapy and osteopathy services. But what exactly is osteopathy? How is it different from physiotherapy? And which treatment do you need? Our therapists have written this guide to help you understand the difference and what it means for you.

Let’s start with a quick comparison and then delve deeply into what you can expect from both osteopathy and physiotherapy when you book a session in London. Whether you need one or the other (or both), you can find highly-qualified experts who know how to use their techniques to treat your medical conditions and help you reach your wellness goals.

Osteopathy vs Physiotherapy: Quick Comparison

Osteopathy and physiotherapy are distinct disciplines, but the ailments they treat and the non-invasive techniques they use often overlap. 

  • Osteopathy is an alternative medicine practice that focuses on manipulating the body to treat complaints with your muscles, tissues, bones and joints.
  • Physiotherapy is a primary healthcare practice that focuses on treating all manner of injuries, health conditions and complaints to rehabilitate and restore normal daily function.

So, osteopathy has a narrow range of conditions it can treat and a limited range of manual therapy techniques to treat them. Physiotherapy, on the other hand, uses a wide range of techniques to treat a plethora of different medical concerns. Furthermore, physiotherapy can be used to rehabilitate after surgery, improve athletic performance, and enhance strength.

Have a specific condition affecting your joints? Osteopathy may be useful. Are you recovering from surgery or an injury or looking to improve your strength, performance, or posture? Physio could be the right choice! Or, you might need a blend of the two. Both osteopathy and physiotherapy can be highly effective when provided by a trained clinician. At One Body LDN, we have registered physiotherapists who can use osteopathy techniques.

If you’re not ready to book a consultation and jump in, we’ve got an in-depth look at both osteopathy vs physiotherapy below.

London physiotherapy Physiotherapy in London

Osteopathy Deep Dive

Osteopathy focuses on the muscles, bones, joints and connective tissue. It takes a holistic view of these aspects of your anatomy and uses manual therapy techniques to manipulate the body as treatment.

Though physiotherapists can effectively use osteopathic techniques where they overlap with physio, osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) to practise in the UK.

Quick History of Osteopathy

Osteopathy originated in the US during the late 19th century. It was founded on the idea that illness originated from the musculoskeletal system. So, if you could maintain the health of the musculoskeletal system, you could reinforce the body’s ability to naturally fend off any and all illnesses. Of course, these ideas were unfounded and are more than a little outdated today!

However, the core of osteopathy (the idea that the body works holistically and that you can maintain well-being by ensuring the musculoskeletal system is functioning correctly) has held strong to the present. While modern osteopathy is still considered an alternative medicine, it now focuses on evidence-based practices and is more widely accepted worldwide.

What Does Osteopathy Treat?

Osteopathy cannot be used to treat any and all diseases, despite what the original osteopathic physicians thought. However, osteotherapy techniques are recognised as effective for treating a whole range of issues. The entire body may be treated and assessed to treat ailments, including:

  • Back pain
  • General neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Elbow pain
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Aches and pains from day-to-day life

If you have ongoing ankle pain with no obvious underlying problems diagnosed by your physician (e.g. a fracture, sprains, infections, etc.), then osteopathy could be a route you want to take. When you visit an osteopathy clinic in London, your ankle might not be the first place an osteopathic clinician will start. Instead, they’ll assess your bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and ligaments to find the source of your pain and treat your body holistically – from your ankle to your knee, hip, and beyond.

There is firm evidence that osteopathy may help treat numerous kinds of pain, specifically in the neck and spine. However, there is no evidence that it can treat asthma, depression, scoliosis, and other conditions that are unrelated to the musculoskeletal system.

Osteopathy Techniques and Treatments

The most common osteopathy techniques and treatments may seem familiar if you’ve ever attended private physiotherapy in London. Osteopaths will focus on improving blood flow, massaging muscles, and strengthening joints. These techniques and treatments can include:

  • Massage therapy
  • Stretches
  • Joint manipulation and mobilisation
  • Spinal manipulations

At One Body LDN, we often use osteopathy techniques to treat back pain. It’s one of the most common health problems people come to us with! For a clearer idea of how these techniques and treatments are used to relieve back pain, watch this demonstration:

Osteopathy is Best For:

To summarise, osteopathy is best for treating aches and pains (especially back pain) originating from the musculoskeletal system. There’s good evidence that osteopathic techniques can be super effective for helping you ease pain and take the first step toward recovery. However, osteopathy has its limitations. So, let’s explore how physiotherapy can expand on it.

Ankle Pain Physiotherapy Physiotherapy in London

Physiotherapy Deep Dive

Physiotherapy focuses on treating specific ailments, like sports injuries, poor posture, or post-surgical recovery. Although it focuses on the afflicted area of your body, it also takes a holistic approach – this is where physiotherapy and osteopathy overlap.

The goal of physiotherapy is to manage pain and restore your strength, agility, and mobility so you can carry out daily activities with ease. Physiotherapists must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to practise and will have a university degree.

Unlike osteopathy, physiotherapy is a recognised primary healthcare practice. Learn more about what physiotherapy entails in our Ultimate Guide to Physiotherapy.

Quick History of Physiotherapy

Using physical therapy, in its most basic form, may date all the way back to 460 BC and the ancient Greeks. The concept of massaging and manipulating the body to treat health conditions and complaints goes back centuries in many civilizations, and the basic idea of these techniques is still carried out today.

Modern physiotherapy and the treatments we use currently began to emerge around the same time that osteopathy was born – the late 19th century. However, physical therapy and exercise at this time had less of a holistic approach. For example, if you had a condition affecting your knee, physical therapy would be applied to the knee.

Over the last 100 years, physiotherapy techniques have grown from simple exercise, massage, and stretching treatments to encompass a whole range of options. As we learn more about anatomy and how the body operates and recovers, physio techniques have become more precise yet more holistic. At its core, modern physiotherapy is an evidence-based practice that should only be carried out by professional, regulated therapists.

What Does Physiotherapy Treat?

Physiotherapy is used to treat many of the same ailments as osteopathy, such as aches and pains, joint problems, and other conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. However, that’s just one aspect of physio. The sheer range of conditions that a physiotherapist can treat are extensive, so we tend to break the practice down into types of physio that treat different ailments:

  • Musculoskeletal physio – everything from arthritis to tendonitis. This type of physio focuses on the muscles, bones, joints and connective tissues, much like osteopathy.
  • Neurological physio – treating symptoms of neurological disorders. For example, restoring mobility after a stroke or refining motor skills for patients with MS.
  • Sports physio – from sports injuries to improving athletic performance, building strength and increasing range of motion, this type of physio is all about sports.
  • Paediatric physio – physiotherapy that’s tailored to the health conditions, diseases, and general anatomy of infants through to adolescents.
  • Cardiac and respiratory physio – conditioning and rebuilding strength to treat the symptoms of cardiac and respiratory diseases. From COPD to asthma, this type of physio focuses on restoring function and maintaining health.

In addition, physiotherapy is focused on ease of mobility. So, even if you don’t have a medical condition, physiotherapy can be used to:

  • Improve your posture
  • Build strength and conditioning
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Restore normal function after surgery or childbirth
  • Maintain mobility and flexibility as you age

A physiotherapist will spend several years at university studying a much wider range of conditions than an osteopath. Many also have experience in medical settings, being employed at private practices or with the NHS. You’ll also find that physiotherapists tend to have specialisations – one area or treatment that they have trained more extensively in. This is important to know when you are choosing a physiotherapist!

If you need physiotherapy, your GP will typically refer you. Physiotherapy is available on the NHS but private clinics (like One Body LDN) are increasingly popular for osteopathy and physiotherapy London services.

Physiotherapy Techniques and Treatments

Ranging from manual therapy to prescribed exercise, the techniques and treatments used by physiotherapists vary widely. However, the unifying factor is that they are all evidence-backed. Some common treatment methods include:

  • Soft and deep tissue massage
  • Personal training for strength and conditioning
  • Taping
  • Acupuncture
  • Shock therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Rehabilitation

Compared to osteopathy, physiotherapy is more exercise-focused when it comes to treatments. But that doesn’t mean you need to be an athlete to keep up. Physiotherapy sessions are tailored to the patient after a thorough assessment. The exercises you’ll do are guided by the physio and suited to your current ability levels, medical conditions, and goals.

With the right techniques and treatments over regular physiotherapy sessions, you should be able to work toward restoring mobility, healing the body, and living a pain-free life.

Physiotherapy is Best For:

Ultimately, physiotherapy is best for treating specific medical conditions, as well as the general aches and pains that osteopathy focuses on. As many of the methods available overlap, you can often see a physiotherapist for osteopathy treatments anyway.

Doctors also prescribe physiotherapy for injury recovery, from strained muscles to broken bones, as well as surgical recovery. For athletes, physio can be a way to maintain strength, better understand their bodies, and enhance performance.

osteopathy and physiotherapy London Physiotherapy in London

How to Find Osteopathy and Physiotherapy in London

With a good understanding of the osteopathy and physiotherapy London services available, you can now start thinking about where you’d like to be treated. Of course, we would love to welcome you at One Body LDN, but if you’d like to do your own research to find a private clinic, here’s what you should look for.

Find Experts

The first step, whether you want osteopathy, physiotherapy, or both, is understanding why. Is it back pain? Do you have arthritis? Is an old injury flaring up? Once you know what your ailment and goal is, you can find a practitioner that matches.

Look for clinicians who have experience and expertise that fits your goal. At One Body LDN, we list the specialities and experiences of all our therapists so you can choose who you see. 

Don’t worry too much if you’re unsure about your condition or ailments – the first step of any session is a careful assessment and diagnosis.

Check Reviews

Checking osteopathy and physiotherapy London reviews is the next step. Look at what patients are saying about the clinics you have shortlisted – consistent negative reviews is a huge red flag. You can also ask friends and family for their recommendations, or even talk to your doctor about which clinics they recommend.

Remember that both osteopaths and physiotherapists are regulated professions in the UK, so any professional you choose should be thoroughly educated and registered to practice.

Choose the Best Location

Finally, location. You can find osteopathy and physiotherapy London-wide, from South Kensington to Canary Wharf. Choose a location that’s easily accessible and look for clinics with open hours that suit your schedule. For both osteopathy and physiotherapy, the key is regular sessions over several weeks or months. Make sure that you aren’t tempted to stop attending sessions due to scheduling conflicts or long commutes!
If you’d like to learn more about physiotherapy and osteopathy in London, explore our services at One Body LDN today.

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