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Chiropractor vs. Physiotherapist : What Is the Difference?

Physiotherapist right health practitioner

For those with sports injuries, injuries from accidents, chronic pain, or a variety of physical conditions, finding the right health practitioner to help is critical. Physiotherapists and chiropractors are both highly successful at helping many patients. To determine if one or both can help you, it helps to know what they do, as well as their similarities and differences.

What Is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists are best known for their role in injury rehabilitation, and are experts in this area. Physiotherapy focusses on strength and mobility, using non-invasive treatments. A registered physiotherapist can diagnose conditions, disorders, or diseases related to the musculoskeletal system, and will use different techniques to gradually help a patient regain or improve their health gradually. A physiotherapist uses multiple treatment methods and techniques, including stretching, exercises, and joint manipulation.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractors assess a patient's musculoskeletal system and use manual techniques of spinal manipulation or other joint manipulation to correct subluxations, or misalignments. This complementary therapy employs a method of targeted realignments to correct these.

Chiropractors treat patients to correct these misalignments, helping to decrease pain at the same time. Many people are aware chiropractors treat spine alignment, but they also treat other joints throughout the body. Chiropractic care leverages the principle of the body’s ability to heal itself when in correct alignment. Poor alignment affects the nervous system and can cause pain, headaches, and other concerns.


There are several similarities between what a physiotherapist and a chiropractor does. Chiropractors and physiotherapists are licensed health professionals. They assess symptoms, review health histories, and perform other diagnostics to determine physical concerns and develop treatment plans to address them.

Treatment Techniques

Both chiropractors and physiotherapists aim to manage and relieve pain and discomfort, and both treat joints and musculoskeletal problems using nonsurgical, noninvasive methods. Both professionals diagnose physical abnormalities within their sphere of expertise. They both help to correct movement and increase or restore strength and function. Both employ manipulation or mobilization techniques to restore mobility, function, and posture.

The same or similar types of conditions might be treated by either professional. Another feature of these healthcare providers is that they often create wellness plans for lifestyle changes and targeted exercises to improve success.

Complementary Treatments

Chiropractors and physiotherapists work together with other professionals to improve a patient's health, and do not aim to be a replacement. The non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical treatments of both work well in conjunction with other health treatments. Both can reduce the need for surgery or other invasive treatments, drugs and medication, and pain killers.


Benefits to reduce pain

Both are individual, reduce pain, reduce the need for surgery and medication, promote healing and health.

Differences Between a Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor

Although there are many similarities, there are also significant differences. A key difference between a physiotherapist and a chiropractor is their main focus. Physiotherapists focus on movement, while chiropractors focus on posture and alignment. There are other differences, as well.

Techniques and Treatment Methods

While there are some similarities in treatments and techniques, the two disciplines have important variations, too.

Chiropractic care tends to have a more hands on approach with manual manipulations, while physical therapy uses a range of methods, including manual therapy, exercises, and stretching, but featuring therapeutic equipment treatments such as ultrasound, TENS and electrical muscle stimulation, shockwave, and other tools.

Many people experience a rapid improvement in muscular or skeletal pain after a chiropractic adjustment for their spinal and muscular misalignments, although subsequent visits are usually necessary to maintain the results. Physiotherapy tends to be a more long-term, gradual rehabilitation and recovery.

Conditions and Diseases

The two disciplines do treat some of the same conditions and diseases, although in different ways, and each of the professions are more effective for treating different conditions.

Chiropractic care is generally most effective for back and neck pain relief, sciatica pain, repetitive motion and lifestyle or posture-related injuries, arthritis, car accident injuries, and sports injuries. It is also effective for treating chronic pain and headaches.

Physiotherapy helps with increasing mobility, especially joint mobility, for people who are injured, aging, or suffering from conditions that limit mobility. It also helps with recovery from sports injuries, surgeries, and diseases. Like chiropractic care, it helps with neck, back, and joint pain, but with differing methodologies. It can help with chronic pain and support those with chronic diseases. Physiotherapists are ideal for helping patients to recover from broken bones and ligament and muscle strains.


Chiropractic care for spinal

Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment varies in the benefits they offer.

Chiropractic care's spinal and joint adjustments ease muscles and reduce nerve pressure, which can eliminate pain nearly instantly for many patients. Chiropractic adjustments can also provide almost immediate improvements on mobility and some functionality.

Physiotherapy's long-term rehabilitation model helps you recover from injuries and disorders faster, but will more gradually restore health with ongoing support. Physiotherapy strengthens the body, helping the patient prevent future injuries. Concerns are also detailed in the physiotherapy treatment plan to develop strategies to avoid long-term problems.

The therapy that provides the most benefit will depend on the source of the problem. Neck or back pain caused by spinal problems is often well managed by chiropractic care, while a physiotherapist may be better for a sprain.

Complementary Care for Back and Neck Pain, Sports Injuries, and More

Complementary Care for Back and Neck Pain

While physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment may overlap, their methods and advantages are different, so different benefits can be obtained from each. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that both offer complementary treatment, so you can use them both together or with other treatments, so you can compound the healing benefits.

These treatments help you identify health risks, restore strength and range of motion, increase mobility and improve balance.

At Impact Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center, we offer both chiropractic care and physiotherapy, so you can choose the treatment that is right for you, or benefit from both.


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Impact Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Centre

6941 Derry Road West
Milton, ON L9T7H5, Canada

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Phone: (905) 875-4393
Fax: (905) 875-9946
Email: [email protected]

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