Tel: 01707 888 229

Osteopath or Physiotherapist?

An osteopath or a Physiotherapist, people often ask who is better? And what’s the difference? In reality, there are probably many more similarities than differences between these two hands-on professions. Both Physiotherapy and Osteopathy treat muscle and joint pain using specific hands-on treatment techniques. Both often use electrotherapy and prescribe exercises. Osteopaths and Physiotherapists typically undertake training at university for three to five years. Training is intense and involves anatomy, physiology, pathology, health sciences and applied technique. In general, Osteopathy typically has a more hands-on treatment approach. Osteopathic training educates the student’s eyes and hands to observe, diagnose, and examine the muscle and joint system to look for dysfunction. Physiotherapists work similarly, and treatment may include other treatment methods such as exercises, electrotherapy, and ultrasound. Osteopaths and Physiotherapists use medical clinical skills as part of the examination to be as safe as possible. Many disorders present as muscle and joint pain. It’s an essential part of examination and treatment to spot any underlying causes such as heart problems, diabetes or, where possible, spot anything nasty before treatment is undertaken.

Osteopathy and Physiotherapy

Both approaches are safe, and practitioners are extremely well qualified with their own unique skill sets. Osteopaths are typically well known for spinal and joint manipulation—physiotherapists who are well known for exercise rehabilitation. Osteopaths typically will treat the body as a whole, whilst physiotherapists are more likely to treat the problematic area and be injury-specific. However, in private practice, Physiotherapy may well be very similar to Osteopathy. Physiotherapists are probably more likely to provide exercise rehabilitation as a part of treatment and are initially trained and work within the NHS framework and initially treat with a strong focus on exercise-based management. However, Many private physiotherapists may treat like Osteopaths, use manipulation and treat the body as a whole. They often have hundreds of hours of post-graduate training and develop their own effective style and expertise. 

Physiotherapist or Osteopath at the Hatfield Physiotherapy Practice

“Training is a science; the application is an art.”


Working alongside each other

Let’s imagine an experienced Physiotherapist and Osteopath working alongside each other in private practice. Both are very knowledgeable and are really passionate about what they do. They have learned huge amounts along the way; In this case, there is an excellent possibility that treatments applied and their skills will not differ significantly. They would be able to treat any presenting musculoskeletal injury safely and effectively. In general, Physiotherapists are initially trained at providing NHS rehabilitation and Osteopaths at using hands-on techniques from the outset to treat painful conditions and chronic pains such as stiff muscles and spines. The fundamental difference between the two may be the philosophy behind the initial training, experience, personal development and the mindset that drives each practitioner to get people better. Despite their differences in philosophy and treatment, both aim to help your body work well again and relieve pain. It’s important to remember that no two practitioners will provide the same treatment. It’s worth researching and trying different people so that you find a practitioner who best suits you and your needs. Both professions complement each other well. Osteopaths provide specific hands-on treatment for pain relief and Physiotherapy, which is brilliant for rehabilitation after injuries or surgery.


Physiotherapy treatment typically involves direct hands-on treatment and exercises. The Physiotherapy will listen to you carefully and examine any sore areas. Treatment reduces pain levels by improving blood flow to the affected area, directly removing inflammation. A gentle or deep massage may help relax muscles and ease swollen joints sweeping inflammation away. Exercises provided will help to increase flexibility and strengthen the area. 

Usually, as the recovery of the injured area progresses, physiotherapy or Osteopathy treatment techniques may be much firmer and focus directly on surrounding body parts to improve the primary cause. This is often described as a whole body or holistic approach. When the body is very inflamed, hands-on treatments may be “too much.” on the day.  It’s usually much more effective to treat with electrotherapy or acupuncture to resolve pain quickly without aggravating the situation further.  In most cases, the Physiotherapist will provide specific exercises to strengthen the body and retrain weakened body parts after injury.

Physiotherapy provides pain relief.

Physiotherapy is clinically proven and can make an enormous difference in the quality of life after injury or surgery.  Physiotherapy is also useful for everyday mishaps, work or sports injuries. Physiotherapy can also help reduce the need for painkillers and motivate and encourage people to recover.   Physiotherapy treatment may include spinal or joint manipulation, where you may hear a small crack or pop as the joint eases. Treatment may also include muscle resistance training (strengthen muscles) and specific stretching to improve the tightness of ligaments and muscles.

Physiotherapy mobilisation (guiding a directed movement through stiff joints) involves small rhythmical movements applied to stiff or painful joints, muscles, and connective tissues. When these mechanical body parts (especially spinal joints) are restricted, they can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. This gradual stiffening up may cause pain and is associated with the feeling of getting older or stiffness.  Mobilisation helps to free the restriction and provide relief. Physiotherapy style “mobilisation” can be combined with soft tissue massage and exercises to provide pain relief.

The Physiotherapist may also include massage to improve blood flow and relax muscles. Nerve mobilisation exercises help to reduce pain and function after back or neck pain, injury or surgery. Physiotherapy exercises may include muscle strengthening, posture re-training to improve flexibility. Also, ergonomic (desk-based) education reduces RSI and fatigue from long-term sitting, driving, or repetitive behaviour. Electrotherapy treatments –  Shock wave therapy, Ultrasound,  Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), laser therapy, diathermy, and H-Wave all have their uses.

Physiotherapy or Osteopathy? Physiotherapist manipulation of the spine

Physiotherapist manipulation of the spine



Osteopaths can help treat various conditions, from back and joint pain, sciatica and nerve problems to sporting injuries. Osteopathy is safe for people of all ages and abilities. It is a safe hands-on therapy that specialises in diagnosing, treating and providing rehabilitation after pain or injury. Osteopathy aims to encourage a preventative approach to injury through the medium of advice and education and practices a whole body or holistic approach that considers the body’s structure and the way it’s working, function. Osteopaths are not only trained to treat the symptoms but also to identify any underlying causes. The Osteopath aims to restore the body’s balance by carefully applying treatment to restricted areas and enhancing self-healing mechanisms. There are many Osteopathic treatment techniques used to suit each person depending on their presenting condition. Osteopathy promotes optimal health and well-being, reducing pain, helping people to feel well again.

Safe practices are paramount and may include:

  • Osteopathic manipulation.
  • Stretching and mobilisation of joints.
  • Soft tissue massage work.
  • Myofascial release.
  • Gentle functional approaches such as cranial osteopathy.

Manipulation is a carefully controlled, precise movement of the joint using a short, rapid thrust motion. Similar to mobilisation but excellent for releasing short and long-term muscle spasms or parts of the body that don’t tend to free up independently. Manipulation helps restore function and mobility. Reduce pain and improve blood flow to the muscles. Treatments such as manipulation help release endorphins (a chemical that your body produces to treat pain that’s three times more powerful than morphine). Manipulation is beneficial around the neck and shoulder areas, low back and thoracic spine.

General advice regarding treatment

Choosing which specialist to see for treatment can be difficult and appear confusing?  Feel free to contact us and speak to reception or directly to a Physiotherapist or Osteopath regarding the symptoms you may have. A few helpful words and sympathetic advice may help enormously. Hatfield Practice reception team are experienced and can Advise you through the process and help you feel make the right decision.  If you see more than one specialism, e.g., Physiotherapist and acupuncturist, we won’t charge you a penny more during the consultation. This dynamic approach is often highly effective and one of the reasons people recommend us. You may know what treatment works best for you as you may have had personal experience or been recommended to a certain practitioner. Our thoughts are it’s best to do something about pain than nothing at all. Especially if your symptoms are not responding to self-treatments such as ice, heat, rest or painkillers, treatment may save you days of pain and discomfort.

We offer No-nonsense, effective advice. 

Commonly muscle and joint pains may be due to “overdoing it” these type of injuries are common. Many aches and pains develop from existing wear and tear within the body, creating pain and inflammation. These types of stresses and strains usually clear up after a few days. Seld treatment with painkillers, maybe ice and rest during the first 24hrs, or gentle exercise often help to ease the discomfort. If symptoms persist, seek advice from an Osteopath  Physiotherapist or Acupuncturist or Gp. If you have a high temperature, abdominal pains or feel unwell, it is better to call your Gp or dial emergency 111 straight away. It’s always better to be safe as the pain presentations can be complicated, internet searches may confuse and complicate matters further. Of course, never ignore pain signals the body sends to you. Our trained staff can help you decide what therapy would suit you best or perhaps provide advice. If you would like to speak to a Physiotherapist, Osteopath or anyone else, call us for advice on Hatfield 01707 888229. Physiotherapy treatment

We won’t charge you a penny more.

One of the benefits of having three or four individual professions within The Hatfield Practice is cross-referring between the specialisms. A Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Traditional Acupuncturist may treat you during the same appointment slot. Acupuncture may be used to reduce nerve pain or inflammation after the Physiotherapy treatment. The Hatfield Practice unique approach to treatment enables us to treat you as effectively as possible. Combining Osteopathy, Physiotherapy with Acupuncture can be enormously useful and is only usually available at last stop NHS specialist pain clinics. If you see more than one specialism during your consultation, we won’t charge you a penny more. Our dynamic “triage” approach to treatment is one of the reasons people recommend us.

Hatfield Practice – Treatments

Poor health and well-being isn’t simply something you should have to put up with. Whether you’ve picked up a sports injury, or suffer from long-term pain and discomfort or want to target new health and fitness goals. The Hatfield Practice can make a real difference.

Sports and deep soft tissue massage in Hatfield

Our massage therapists provide a variety of excellent Deep soft tissue treatments. Massage can be deep or relaxing and works quickly and effectively to aid injury recovery.  The firm approach works intensely into the stiff muscles, connective tissue and joints. Providing almost instant relief.  If there is pain, massage tends to be slower as the deep muscles can be sensitive. Techniques require the therapist’s concentration as they “listen” through fingertips. Each treatment is unique and initially if there is an injury muscle specific. Massage techniques may help resolve painful, stiff, and overuse conditions that have often taken a long time to develop.  Sports massage is a fantastic all-around body tonic. The firmer style of sports massage may help the frozen shoulders, neck and shoulder pain, migraine, headaches, tendon injuries, low back pain, and sciatica. Sports massage is a focused and in-depth and effective treatment. It also can be vigorous if the tissue is stiff and fibrotic. Techniques include various flowing movements to loosen the muscles or open joints up to improve mobility. The firmer techniques help break patterns of tension, chronic pain and inflammation-related pain such as tendon inflammation or low back pain. Treatment, in general, improves range of motion and may enhance sports performance. Massage is predominantly used to relieve pain, tiredness, tension and stiffness. Massage helps break down scar tissue, ease painful chronic postural tensions, relax muscle spasms. It also helps to release long term musculoskeletal patterns that lead to ongoing back and neck pain. Soft tissue massage can improve flexibility, help you to relax and enhance well being. Therapy has the added benefit of helping to improve blood flow to damaged tissues, which helps speed repair by aiding your bodies cleansing and immune systems by removing toxins from the body. Visit our Massage Therapy page for more information.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture

Although best known for pain control for conditions such as frozen shoulder or Tennis elbow, sciatica, and osteoarthritis.  Acupuncture helps a wide variety of disorders, from fertility, hayfever, complex systemic problems such as fatigue. Acupuncture may help respiratory ailments such as sinusitis, colds, bronchitis, and asthma. Symptoms such as shingles, specific facial pain such as trigeminal neuralgia may often be helped and reduced through acupuncture—neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, including nerve pain and weakness following a stroke or accident acupuncture, involves the insertion of extremely fine, sterile, single-use needles at specific points of the body. Usually, between 2 and six needles are applied but can be up to 15 or more, depending on the condition. Like the way TENS works, the insertion and stimulation of the needles at specific trigger points tricks the body into releasing its own pain-relieving chemicals, such as endorphins. Visit our Acupuncture page for more information.

Ultrasound treatment

Ultrasound equipment uses high-frequency sound waves to penetrate deep into the tissue, causing tissues to vibrate and creating gentle deep heat. Ultrasound helps to relieve pain and inflammation, reduces muscle spasm and promotes the healing process by encouraging better blood flow to the affected area. It is great for scar tissue, ankle and shoulder injuries.


TENS stands for ‘Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation’ – a small battery-operated unit that provides electrical stimulation through two or more electrodes applied directly to the skin. The frequency of the impulses is controllable. The stimulus causes the body to release its natural pain-relieving chemicals (endorphins) to provide relief and improved comfort when pain is ongoing.

Kinesio Taping and K tape

In certain situations, taping or strapping can limit unwanted movement at a joint or offload specific anatomical structures. Taping applied after examination and treatment will help in many ways. Tape stabilises and eases inflammation that may present as a weakness, trapped nerve or injury. Muscle retraining or taping for trapped nerves is probably one of the best pain-relieving tools there are. Body movement can be affected by poor muscle control and repetitive habits, leading to ongoing discomfort or even pain. Muscles can become physiologically adapted “compensate” to the movement dysfunction. Sometimes referred to as muscle memory. Physiotherapists can employ K tape and exercise strategies to “retrain” muscles to function correctly, improving the quality of movement.

Core stability and balance work

Core stability relates to how the core musculature of the trunk (abdominal muscles, lower back, pelvis and diaphragm) controls posture and movement. Poor core stability can often be a factor in lower back pain and poor posture. Specific exercises such as ball work and physiotherapy balancing exercises can help to improve muscle control and quality of movement. Please visit our Physiotherapy page for more information. Core stability training can be beneficial before and after pregnancy.

Personalised exercise programmes

To help facilitate recovery, physiotherapists will often prescribe specific rehabilitation exercises. These directed activities may help to improve posture, strengthen weak muscles and improve flexibility within restricted spinal and peripheral joints. Rehabilitation exercises are a fundamental part of physiotherapy practice. The physiotherapist may provide exercises designed for you. These exercises empower and enable patients to continue to strengthen or improve the mobility of an injured or weak body part long after treatments have finished.  Prescribed exercises will be specific to your particular condition and designed so that you can do these at home between treatments. Emphasis is always on exercise quality, not quantity.


“Training is a science; the application is an art.”