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What's The Difference Between An Osteopath and Chiropractor in New Zealand?

Understanding the Distinctive Approaches

In New Zealand, Osteopathy and chiropractic are two prominent manual therapy disciplines. Although they are often considered similar, they have distinct philosophical and practical differences.

Osteopathy: A Holistic Approach of The Entire Body

Osteopathy originated in the late 19th century and takes a holistic approach to the body. Osteopaths focus on the musculoskeletal system's influence on overall health and use hands-on techniques like soft-tissue mobilisation and joint manipulation to improve mobility and blood flow.

Osteopathy is evolving with the integration of evidence-based practices, such as Western medical acupuncture and shockwave therapy, alongside traditional osteopathic techniques. This multimodal approach reflects a commitment to providing comprehensive and effective patient care and is all offered at Movement Mechanics Osteopathy Auckland.

Benefits of Osteopathy Auckland

Chiropractic: Focusing on Spinal Alignment

Chiropractic, developed during the same era as Osteopathy, primarily treats disorders by looking at the spine. Chiropractors use spinal adjustments to correct spinal alignment issues to treat patients presenting complaints. Chiropractors tend to take their own X-rays, whereas Osteopaths refer to expertly trained radiographers to conduct imaging for diagnosis when required.

Which is better Osteopathy or Chiropractic Auckland

Embracing Osteopathy in Aotearoa

Osteopathy is increasingly recognised for its comprehensive approach in areas like West Auckland and Auckland. The ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) in New Zealand acknowledges osteopathy as an effective treatment, covering osteopathic treatments under certain conditions.

Research and Evidence: Validating Osteopathy's Efficacy

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of osteopathic treatment for common complaints; here are just a few examples of common issues seen in practice:

  1. Back Pain: A study found osteopathic manipulative treatment significantly reduced lower back pain (Licciardone, J. C., Brimhall, A. K., & King, L. N. (2005). Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 6(43).

  2. Neck Pain: Research indicated that osteopathic manipulation can reduce neck pain and increase range of motion (Dunning, J. R., Butts, R., Mourad, F., Young, I., Flannagan, S., & Perreault, T. (2016). Upper cervical and upper thoracic thrust manipulation versus non-thrust mobilisation in patients with mechanical neck pain: a multi-centre randomised clinical trial. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 46(1), 5-20.

  3. Headaches and Migraines: A systematic review suggested improvements in migraine patients following osteopathic treatment, with reductions in frequency and severity (Voigt, K., Liebnitzky, J., Burmeister, U., et al. (2011). Efficacy of osteopathic manipulative treatment of female patients with migraine: results of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(3), 225-230.

Osteopathy West auckland osteopath

Western medical acupuncture, a modern adaptation of traditional Chinese acupuncture, uses fine needles to stimulate nerves in muscles and other tissues. This stimulation is believed to produce pain-relieving substances and promote healing. In New Zealand, osteopaths who integrate acupuncture into their treatment must undergo post-graduate study in Western Medical Acupuncture, such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Health Science Acupuncture offered by Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Historically, other allied health providers have not been required to undertake such qualifications, with many choosing to undertake short courses in dry needling instead.

Chronic Pain Relief: Tough et al. (2009) demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in managing chronic pain, particularly in musculoskeletal conditions

Acupuncture Dry Needling Auckland

Shockwave Therapy in Osteopathy

Shockwave therapy involves using high-energy sound waves to promote healing, particularly in chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Tendon Disorders Treatment: Rompe et al. (2008) found that shockwave therapy is effective for chronic plantar fasciitis, providing significant pain relief and functional improvement.

Shockwave therapy auckland

Combining Acupuncture, Shockwave Therapy, and Osteopathy: A Multimodal Approach

Integrating Western medical acupuncture, shockwave therapy, and traditional osteopathic techniques offers a comprehensive approach to patient care, particularly for chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Benefits of a Multimodal Approach:

  • Enhanced Pain Management: Combining these modalities may offer greater pain relief, as they target different pain pathways.

  • Improved Functional Outcomes: The multimodal approach can lead to better functional outcomes by addressing various aspects of musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Accelerated Healing: The synergistic effect of these treatments can potentially accelerate the healing process.

What is better chiropractor or osteopath?

Why Choose Osteopathy in New Zealand?

Selecting to see an Osteopath in West Auckland or Auckland, such as Movement Mechanics Osteopathy Auckland, means you will receive holistic care-tailored treatments from an ACC-registered practitioner, making it a compelling choice for those seeking comprehensive treatment. The modern evidence-based approach to osteopathy, incorporating Western medical acupuncture, shockwave therapy, and traditional osteopathic methods, offers a comprehensive strategy for managing various conditions. This multimodal approach, backed by research, demonstrates osteopathy's evolution and integrates evidence-based practices for improved patient outcomes.

Which is for you? Osteopathy or Chiropractic

While both osteopathy and chiropractic offer benefits, osteopathy's holistic approach, supported by research, makes it a compelling choice for comprehensive treatment. Consulting with a qualified osteopath in regions like West Auckland or Auckland could be a pivotal step towards achieving optimal health.


Jonathan Hall M.Ost, BAppSci (HB), PGCertHSc (Acupuncture) & GradDipHeal

Jonathan Hall is the founder and principle Osteopath at Movement Mechanics Osteopathy and specialises in Shockwave Therapy. A fully qualified Osteopath currently studying Western Medical Acupuncture out of AUT New Zealand, Jonathan founded Auckland Shockwave Therapy to help bring evidence-based Shockwave treatment to New Zealand using the industry-leading EMS Radial Shock Wave device.


Franke, H., Franke, J. D., & Fryer, G. (2014). Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 15(1), 286.

Licciardone, J. C., Brimhall, A. K., & King, L. N. (2005). Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 6(43).

Mani-Babu, S., Morrissey, D., Waugh, C., Screen, H., & Barton, C. (2015). The effectiveness of extracorporeal shock wave therapy in lower limb tendinopathy: a systematic review. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(3), 752-761.

Rompe, J. D., Cacchio, A., Weil, L., Jr., Furia, J. P., Haist, J., Reiners, V., ... & Maffulli, N. (2008). Plantar fascia-specific stretching versus radial shock-wave therapy as initial treatment of plantar fasciopathy. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume, 90(11), 2445-2452.

Tough, E. A., White, A. R., Cummings, T. M., Richards, S. H., & Campbell, J. L. (2009). Acupuncture and dry needling in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. European Journal of Pain, 13(1), 3-10.

Voigt, K., Liebnitzky, J., Burmeister, U., et al. (2011). Efficacy of osteopathic manipulative treatment of female patients with migraine: results of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(3), 225-230.

White, A., Foster, N. E., Cummings, M., & Barlas, P. (2008). Acupuncture treatment for chronic knee pain: a systematic review. Rheumatology, 47(3), 335-340.

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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