An osteopath and a chiropractor
are both people who work in the medical profession. People who see chiropractors
aren't "sick." They have aches and pains, but "sick"
usually means diseases, germs, viruses - not what chiropractors treat.
Osteopaths deal with bones - "osteo" means "bones."
An osteopath comes closer to a medical doctor in what services he/she
can perform: prescribing medications, performing surgery, etc. A chiropractor
cannot perform those services. The main thing a chiropractor does is
to manipulate the bones in the back.
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(Houghton Mifflin, 1996), "osteopathy," the field that osteopaths
work in, is defined thus:
"A system of medicine based on the theory that disturbances in the musculoskeletal
system affect other bodily parts, causing many disorders that can be
corrected by various manipulative techniques in conjunction with conventional
medical, surgical, pharmacological, and other therapeutic procedures."
Here is the definition of "chiropractic," the field that chiropractors
"A system of therapy in which disease is considered the result of abnormal
function of the nervous system. Treatment usually involves manipulation
of the spinal column and other body structures."
You can see from these definitions that an osteopath can work in all
specializations. In fact, there are DOs (Doctors of Osteopathy) in all
medical specialties: otolaryngology, dermatology, psychiatry, etc. Sometimes
they work along with MDs (Doctors of Medicine). A chiropractor, on the
other hand, can work only in his or her own field.
You may wonder why a person goes to osteopathy school instead of medical
school, when at the end osteopaths and medical doctors perform the same
services. I was told by a physician - an MD - that there aren't enough
places in medical schools for everyone, and so some of the applicants
turn to osteopathy school instead.