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The Difference Between a Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor

If you’re experiencing pain from an injury, repetitive movements, or other everyday activities, you may be wondering whether you should see a physiotherapist or a chiropractor (or both). What are the advantages and specialties of each one? These are very common questions we hear. It’s important to understand that many physiotherapists and chiropractors work alongside each other, often even in the same practice, because they both have the same goal to help people feel better!

On the surface, physiotherapists and chiropractors seem very similar but there are some notable differences between these occupations. While both are trained specialists to help you move and feel better, and both offer a wide range of benefits, there are specific reasons and scenarios in which you may want to choose a physiotherapist or chiropractor.

The main difference between a physiotherapist and a chiropractor has to do with the spine. A chiropractor focuses more on the diagnosis and treatment of afflictions to the spine, including mobility and functionality, as well as neurological tissues and the nervous system. Chiropractors often treat headaches, repetitive strain issues, neck pain, leg pain and back pain using manual techniques to manipulate the spine and return it to a normal state.  Often many problems with the spine affect other areas of the body and a chiropractic adjustment can help to alleviate additional conditions such as fibromyalgia.

A physiotherapist, on the other hand, focuses more on body movement patterns and functionality of specific body parts and joints such as the shoulders, hips, wrists and ankles. Physiotherapists aim to improve muscle weaknesses or imbalances which can be due to injuries, surgery, or repetitive strain. We also handle more post-surgical or post-stroke rehabilitations than chiropractors normally do. Overall, with physiotherapy there is a larger emphasis on using specific, targeted exercises for rehabilitating muscles and restoring movement.

Deciding on the Best Course of Treatment

It’s important to distinguish the similarities and differences between physiotherapists and chiropractors to help decide which treatment may be right for you.

Both specialists have these overlapping qualities:

  • Use manual techniques with their hands or additional tools to relieve tension and pain
  • Address many of the same problem areas including lower back pain, leg pain and other nerve, joint and muscle issues
  • Promote stretching exercises to enhance and strengthen the benefits of each treatment.

One helpful way to decide which professional to seek out more information from is to consider whether your pain is more joint and spinal related or whether it’s muscle and movement related. The best course of action is to make an appointment for a consultation where the chiropractor or physiotherapist can fully assess your condition and work with you on a treatment plan. In some cases, chiropractors and physiotherapists will recommend the other’s services as additional support in recovery and for your overall health and wellness.

Do you have more questions about physiotherapy and other treatments that may help with your concerns? Contact us today, and our team of professionals will be happy to chat with you!