What’s the difference between a chiro, osteo & physio?

You’ve got a niggle and you just want to get it sorted as fast as possible. The trouble comes in choosing where to get it sorted.

Everyone has their own preference for one form of treatment or another. That leads to many passionate arguments for either a physiotherapist, an osteopath or a chiropractor. It also tells you that not every therapist is able to effectively treat every condition.

We don’t make judgements here, but through reading this you may get an idea about where might suit you best.

There’s a fair amount of cross-over between the three types of therapists: no drugs, no surgery, hands on treatment. Read on for the easiest way to compare physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors.


Physiotherapists are the sports injury specialists. They also do a range of treatment including things as diverse as pelvic health pre and post pregnancy, rehab for stroke, rehab after surgeries like a knee or hip replacement.

Physios diagnose (often sending you off for scans after doing a physical assessment) and treat injuries, often finishing off the process with exercises to get your strength and mobility back.

During the treatment phase, you’ll often be hooked up to all kinds of interesting contraptions. For instance, electrical pads that send pulses into your muscles.

Ultimately, a physio’s final exercise plan for you should help prevent injury reoccurrence.


Osteopaths believe niggles can come from anywhere in the body, not just the spine (which some traditional chiros tend to think). You might choose an osteo for spinal, joint and pelvic conditions.

Both physios and chiros often send you in for scans before they treat you, osteos, on the other hand, diagnose you and treat you on the first appointment.

Some osteos say that their treatment is ‘holistic’ although there are physios and chiros who also use techniques from the other two disciplines. If you see an osteo for knee pain, they’ll probably check your ankle, pelvis and back to see if you’re transferring another problem to your knee.

Also different to your chiro, an osteo loosens your body up with a massage and a stretch before they manipulate your joints. Like physios, they exercise your muscles and ligaments.


The back-cracking specialists. Known for spine manipulation that feels oh so right afterwards.

Chiros believe that some niggles, headaches and neck pain come from your spine and treat you accordingly. The idea is that the adjustment and nerve pain relief you feel will be enough to take care of things, often without much work on muscles or ligaments.

What can you claim back?

You can claim back benefits for physio, osteo and chiro with any Peoplecare Extras cover up to your limits.

View your Extras limits on our app Larry or via Online Member Services.

Looking for Extras cover? Just be aware that to protect our existing members from ‘hit and run’ claimers (we know you wouldn’t do that, but some people do!), we have waiting periods that you’ll have to serve before claiming.










All articles