Training in osteopathy is primarily structural. Continuous professional development can involve studying various post-graduate courses such as “cranial osteopathy”. Cranial osteopathy involves very gentle energy based techniques, which can be used throughout the body and not just on the head as the term implies.Some practitioners of osteopathy may describe themselves as primarily structural and others as a primarily cranial. Structural osteopathy has a greater similarity to chiropractic than cranial osteopathy.
Osteopathy is a 5 year full time degree course whereas Physiotherapy is a 4-year degree course. This is partly because training in osteopathy involves becoming a primary care practitioner (able to use conventional diagnosis to screen for pain not coming from muscles and joints, like your G.P.)
Physiotherapists tend to have a muscular approach to diagnosis and are more likely to use machines such as ultrasound, TENS electric nerve stimulation and laser. Some physiotherapists do postgraduate courses in manipulation but primary training does not include it.
Osteopathy and physiotherapy often involve massage, specialised stretching techniques and exercise advice.
Physiotherapists are often perceived as more mainstream due to involvement in post-surgical rehabilitation in hospitals and treatment of sport’s injuries.