The World Health Organization defines physiotherapy as the science of treatment by means of therapeutic exercise and physical agents (heat, cold, light, water, massage and electricity). It also includes the execution of electrical and manual tests to determine the value of affectation and muscular strength. Also tests to determine functional capacities, the amplitude of joint movement and measures of vital capacity. The physiotherapist has the ability to apply all these therapies. They do not only give massages but there are physiotherapists specializing in neurology, respiratory or cardiology systems, and never forgetting the musculoskeletal system, especially with therapeutic exercise.
Osteopathy is the medical science that treats the individual globally and holistically. In a diagnostic approach, they look for the cause and origin of the injury. It seeks and attends the zones of hypomobility, that is, areas that do not move correctly or that are blocked.
Its complete approach involves covering all the patient’s spheres (structural, cranial and visceral) with specific tests and techniques for diagnosis and treatment.
One of the clearest differences is the diagnostic method that is performed on the patient. In osteopathy, as we have said, a more holistic approach is taken. It seeks to integrate all areas of patient health. In physiotherapy, there is a greater focus on the area of the lesion to look for the origin and above all in the causes of the locomotor system without taking into account the visceral and fluidic part of the patient.
We must also highlight the electrotherapy part of physiotherapy where different machines are used for diagnosis and treatment. However, osteopathy basically makes a diagnosis and manual treatment.
Another basic difference is the frequency between treatments. In physiotherapy and according to the pathology, sessions can be done daily. In osteopathy in almost no case sessions are made less than three days apart. It is normal to leave up to a week or ten days between sessions. This is due to the osteopathic principle of self-regulation of the body. Osteopaths seek to allow time for the body to recover with the help of our treatment.