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Chiropractor vs. Physiotherapist: What’s the difference?

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, there is a good chance you’re searching for a professional that can help you. When looking for a non-surgical option in managing their issues, many people reach a crossroads when determining whether to seek help from a physiotherapist or a chiropractor.

To the uninitiated, both professions seem similar. Both focus on managing pain and mobility issues using non-evasive techniques and hands-on therapeutic methods to treat ailments.

Here we’ll give you a brief rundown on both disciplines and explain the differences.

chiropractor working on patient on a chiropractic table
chiropractor assessing patients spine on table

The Backbone of the Professions

Most people know that physiotherapists and chiropractors help people by addressing pain in areas like the neck and back. They are also aware that they assist people by increasing mobility diminished by injury or repetitive joint movement. However, the main difference is the focus they place on the spine.

A chiropractor focuses on diagnosing and treating pain and injury by using techniques to manipulate and realign the spine. A chiropractor has a more holistic approach to their treatment.

Everything from headaches to leg pain may originate in the spine and can be addressed using a chiropractic adjustment.

On the other hand, a physiotherapist focuses on patterns in body movement and how specific body parts function. They will use specific exercises to target and rehabilitate individual muscle groups. When they focus on the spine, it has more to do with making changes in the soft tissue around the spine instead of manipulating the spine itself.

The Training

While both physiotherapists and chiropractors require a tertiary education, chiropractors spend about five years in university compared to a physiotherapist who typically invests four years into their degree.
Both professions would have received training in assessing and treating the spine. Still, a chiropractor would have more active training in spinal manipulation than their physiotherapist counterparts.

pencil drawing of spine - chiropractor training mackay
My Chiropractor Spinal Decompression Therapy Ongoing in Mackay Clinic

The Equipment

Typically, chiropractors use specialised equipment to conduct their adjustments and manipulations. This will mean that their offices are specifically designed to accommodate the client and equipment like spinal decompression tables. Often operated by a computer, these tables use motorised traction that gently stretches the spine. Spinal decompression tables are often used as a non-surgical option in treating bulging or herniated discs.

Physiotherapists tend to be more mobile, and they can practice in a clinical setting or travel to a client’s home. This is mainly because they are unencumbered by the need for specialised equipment.

The Philosophy

Chiropractors generally operate out of a specific philosophy. That is, with intervention from a chiropractor, your body can heal itself.

You May Not Have to Choose

Often you will find chiropractors and physiotherapists working alongside each other, sometimes in the same facility. There are several ways their disciplines overlap. Sometimes the course of treatment you need may involve getting assistance from both.

The only way to determine which approach may be best for you is to have a consultation.

At My Chiropractor, we offer focused quality care designed to help with a wide range of conditions.
To find out how we can help you feel free to contact us.

woman inspecting mans leg on chiropractic table