A Guide to Migraine Treatment

Mitcham Osteopathy vs. Physiotherapy Treatment | Flow Osteopathy Mitcham

You’ve likely heard of osteopathy and physiotherapy if you suffer from sore joints and muscles.

Physiotherapy and osteopathy are different approaches to helping people with pain and mobility problems. Both involve hands-on techniques and exercise based rehabilitation to help relieve pain and improve function, so how can you tell which approach is right for you?

Let’s look at the differences between osteopathy and physiotherapy to help you decide which approach might be best for your condition.

Philosophy and focus

Two popular approaches to treating musculoskeletal conditions and injuries are osteopathy and physiotherapy. While there are similarities, there are subtle differences in their philosophy and approach to health care.


Osteopathy in general takes a more holistic approach that emphasises the interconnectedness of different systems in the body. It uses evidence-based approaches to improve function, reduce pain and support the body’s own ability to heal itself.


Physiotherapy is in general more focused on treating specific injuries or conditions, using evidence-based practice to help patients recover from their injuries and improve their quality of life.

Treatment techniques

Osteopathic treatment

Osteopaths use various hands-on techniques to manipulate and mobilise the body’s soft tissues, bones, and joints. Osteopaths will also use exercise based rehabilitation when necessary to enhance the effect of their treatments. Depending on the individual’s need and preferences they may use a combination of the techniques: 

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Joint manipulation
  • Positional release techniques
  • Muscle energy technique
  • Myofascial release
  • Stretching
  • Indirect gentle release techniques
  • Pain education

Physiotherapy treatment

Physiotherapists also use hands-on techniques but generally tend to focus on prescribing exercises and stretches to restore movement and function.

Other modalities, such as dry needling, hydrotherapy, taping and shockwave therapy, are frequently used by physiotherapists and osteopaths.

Osteopathy VS Physiotherapy: Which Approach Is Right For You? | Flow Osteopathy

Scope of practice


Osteopaths see people of all ages and abilities. They focus solely on treating musculoskeletal issues or conditions related to the nervous system (such as headaches and migraine). They generally work in private practices, providing manual therapy and simple home exercises to help patients recover from injuries and improve their overall health and well-being.

Some of the conditions treated by osteopaths include: 

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Neck and back pain
  • Foot pain 
  • Knee pain 
  • Hip pain
  • Headache and migraine
  • Shoulder pain
  • Pregnancy-related pain
  • Sports injuries


Physiotherapists are trained to work with various patients, from athletes to older adults with chronic conditions. They work in a broader range of healthcare settings than osteopaths, including hospitals, private practices, and sporting clubs. 

Physiotherapists are well-known for healing athletes’ injuries. Still, they also treat premature babies, individuals rehabilitating from stroke or those experiencing brain/spinal cord damage.

Training and qualifications

In Australia, physiotherapists and osteopaths are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).


Osteopaths spend four to five years studying for their university degree, including theory and practical components. They must also complete several clinical hours before graduating and becoming registered.


Physiotherapists complete a four-year university degree that includes theory and practical components and a certain number of clinical hours before graduating and becoming registered.

Choosing the right approach

The choice between osteopathy and physiotherapy will depend on the individual’s needs, preferences, and the nature of their condition or injury. In some cases, a combination of both approaches may be beneficial. 

Tips for choosing a practitioner

Choose a qualified and registered practitioner to ensure a safe and effective treatment that meets the standards set by the regulatory body. By visiting their website, you can generally see if a practitioner is registered with AHPRA. 

Please be prepared to discuss your symptoms and medical history in detail to help the practitioner develop an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your needs. They may also ask you to undergo some further tests or assessments to determine the cause of your issue.

Osteopathy VS Physiotherapy: Which Approach Is Right For You? | Flow Osteopathy

Book an appointment with one of our experienced practitioners at Flow Osteopathy for an assessment and comprehensive treatment plan.

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