Do You Know the Difference Between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

At Osteopathic Wellness Center, the care you receive from David Johnston, DO, sometimes includes osteopathic manipulation treatments, which may seem similar to chiropractic adjustments. However, there are some key differences between osteopathy and chiropractic care. 


Both osteopaths and chiropractors are doctors, but their training differs. Both must attain an undergraduate degree and be accepted into a graduate program. 

Doctors of osteopathy (DOs) follow similar training to medical doctors and attend four years of medical school, followed by internship, residency, and sometimes fellowships. About 25% of medical students are studying to become DOs, which means they undertake about 500 additional hours of training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). 

Students training to become chiropractors enter programs at chiropractic colleges after obtaining bachelor’s degrees. These programs usually last 4-5 years. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) must spend about a year working with patients before licensing, but they don’t go through traditional internship and residency programs. 

Both types of professionals must pass stringent exams and undergo continuing education throughout their careers in order to remain licensed and in practice. 

In practice

There are also some important differences between how osteopaths and chiropractors typically practice. Chiropractors usually focus on chiropractic adjustments, particularly of the spine. These adjustments are to make sure your musculoskeletal system is properly aligned for optimal functioning. 

Osteopaths are trained to examine your whole body first, and though they may suggest a treatment plan based primarily on OMT, they may choose more mainstream methods of treatment as well. 

DOs simply have more options for treatment than DCs, largely because they are fully licensed physicians. DOs have a wider scope of training and can prescribe medications, whereas DCs have a narrower focus. 

What it means for you 

Both DCs and DOs tend to approach patient treatment with the idea that your body can heal itself in many instances, and that structure and function are intertwined. When it comes to your care, DOs have more options for treatment and are likely to consider your symptoms through a wider lens. 

OMT may resemble chiropractic adjustments in that it’s a very hands-on approach, but there are differences there as well. Chiropractic adjustments are usually made to your bones and joints, primarily those of your spine. OMT may involve more stretching and soft tissue manipulation, depending on your specific problem. 

Osteopathy is a type of holistic, or whole-body, care. Dr. Johnston approaches you and your treatment as the individual you are. He evaluates your situation and suggests treatment for your immediate symptoms as well as for your most optimal overall function. His treatment suggestions are based on extensive medical training and years of experience. 

If you’d like to learn more about osteopathy or OMT, set up a consultation at Osteopathic Wellness Center today. Schedule your appointment online using our easy booking tool, or you can call 203-439-6816 and we’ll be happy to get you on our schedule. 

You can also send a message to Dr. Johnston and the team here on our website.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Tips to Help Prevent Sports Injuries

Participating in sports is a great way to stay active, and it’s good for your health. But if you get injured, you may have to spend too much time on the sidelines — not to mention the pain and aggravation! Here are some tips to keep you playing.

Know the Signs of Concussion

Did you know that a concussion is actually a traumatic brain injury? This type of injury is becoming increasingly common. Here’s what you need to know so you can recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion and get care when necessary.

Can IV Therapy Reduce My Chronic Headaches?

If you’re tired of being sidelined by recurrent headaches, we can help. Find out how IV therapy works to relieve headache and migraine symptoms and keep chronic headaches under control.

Is Back Pain Normal As You Age?

Back pain can be annoying and prevent you from living a full life. Find out how you can relieve severe symptoms that seem to worsen with age.

The Dangers of Tech Neck

The average person spends about 11 hours a day looking down at a screen. Unfortunately, bending your head forward for too long can lead to tech neck. Learn the dangers of tech neck, and how to avoid it.