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What is the difference between chiropractic, physiotherapy and osteopathy?

It is often difficult for people to distinguish between these three professions, as they all deal with similar conditions. They are however, quite different from one another, as demonstrated by their individual approaches to identical problems, and more importantly by their professional training and their degree of legal recognition.

The following is a table comparing chiropractic, physiotherapy and osteopathy with regards to professional training and to their recognition under the law.

Training and Certification
  Chiropractic Physiotherapy Osteopathy
Academic title Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)1 Bachelor of Health and Science (Physiotherapy) or Master in Physiotherapy (M.Pht) None
Title protected by Law Chiropractor Physiotherapist None
Prerequisites College diploma in Natural Science College diploma in Natural Science Varies according to establishment
Length of studies 5 years2
16 months of internship*
4 years4
full time
University Credits 2452 1354 0
>University education Doctorate degree university first cycle Bachelors degree
(conferred before 2011)
or Masters Degree
(first graduates in 2011)5
Recognition under "Le Code des professions" Yes Yes No
Training accredited by a National Organization Yes Yes No
International standardization Yes3 No No
Professional indemnity insurance required Yes Yes No

* Included
1 Regulation respecting the diplomas issued by designated educational institutions which give access to permits or specialists certificates of professional orders, cC-26, r.1.1
2 Department of Chiropractic, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières.
3 All chiropractors trained in Quebec, like their colleagues world-wide, receive an education accredited by the Councils on Chiropractic Education International (CCEI).
4 School of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal.
5 All persons having successfully completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Physiotherapy at the university level are eligible for membership in the Order of Physiotherapists of Quebec, and to hold the title of Physiotherapist.
The following universities are now offering Physiotherapist training at the Masters level: Montreal, Laval, McGill and Sherbrooke.

Furthermore, in chiropractic, we practice lawfully, in accordance with the rights granted under chiropractic law:
  Chiropractic Physiotherapy Osteopathy
Right to diagnose Yes6 No7 No
Right to take x-rays Oui8 No No
Right to analyze x-rays Yes8 No No
Right to perform spinal and joint manipulations Yes Yes No

6 To the extent permitted by Article 7 of the Chiropractic Act, RSQ, chapter C-16
7 The law prohibits Physiotherapists from making diagnoses. However, they may make different assessments. Source: Professional Code: Sections 37N and 37.1, para.3
8 To the extent permitted by Article 7 of the Chiropractic Act, RSQ, chapter C-16 and subject to the possession of a radiology permit.

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