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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 focuses 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.

Similarities Between the Two Professions

  • Both chiropractors and physiotherapists aim to improve the patient's quality of life through non-surgical means.
  • They share a holistic approach to patient care, considering the overall health and lifestyle of the patient in their treatment plans.
  • They assess symptoms, review health histories, and perform other diagnostics to determine physical concerns and develop treatment plans to address them. 
  • Chiropractors and physiotherapists are licensed health professionals.
  • They 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.
  • Both are individual, reduce pain, reduce the need for surgery and medication, and promote healing and health.

Key Differences Between a Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor

Education and Training

  • Chiropractors typically undergo a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, which includes extensive study in chiropractic care, anatomy, physiology, and spinal manipulation techniques.
  • Physiotherapists are required to complete a university degree in physiotherapy, focusing on a wide range of physical therapy techniques and patient care.

Treatment Focus

  • Chiropractors primarily focus on the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. They are known for their expertise in diagnosing and treating spinal disorders and relieving pain through spinal adjustments.
  • Physiotherapists have a broader focus on the overall musculoskeletal system. They treat a variety of injuries and conditions affecting muscles, joints, and bones, often using exercise-based rehabilitation.

Techniques and Approaches

  • Chiropractic Techniques: Emphasize manual spinal manipulation to correct alignment issues, relieve pain, and improve function.
  • Physiotherapy Techniques: Include a range of treatments such as exercise programs, manual therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to enhance mobility and strength.


Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments vary 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 in 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.

When to Visit a ChiropractorChiropractic care for spinal

  • Conditions: Ideal for individuals suffering from back pain, neck pain, headaches, and spinal alignment issues, a chiropractor is recommended.
  • Scenarios: Beneficial after a sports injury, or car accident, or for chronic pain management.
  • Testimonials: Patient stories often highlight relief from chronic pain and improved spinal health.

When to Visit a Physiotherapist


Benefits to reduce pain

  • Conditions: Recommended for rehabilitation after surgeries, sports injuries, and managing chronic conditions like arthritis.
  • Scenarios: Useful for those recovering from strokes, managing mobility issues, or seeking to improve overall physical function.
  • Success Stories: Patients often report significant improvements in mobility, strength, and a decrease in pain levels from physiotherapy services.

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 treatments, 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.


9:30 am - 6:30 pm
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9:30 am - 6:30 pm
11:30 am - 6:30 pm
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Impact Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Centre

6941 Derry Road West
Milton, ON L9T7H5, Canada

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

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