Understanding the Difference Between Chiropractors and Physiotherapists

03 January 2024

Understanding the Difference Between Chiropractors and Physiotherapists

There has always been some confusion between the professions of chiropractors and physiotherapists. While there is some overlap, there are distinct differences that can help you determine which one is right for your needs. Let’s explore and differentiate between these two professions to develop a better understanding.



According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, physiotherapists help restore movement and function when a patient is affected by injury, illness, or disability. They use movement, exercise, manual therapy, education, and advice to achieve this.

Treatment Approach:

Before beginning treatment, physiotherapists conduct a thorough assessment, which includes taking a detailed medical history and performing passive accessory movement screening tests. This helps identify the problem and potential causes of your condition.

Physiotherapists focus on restoring ‘musculoskeletal health,’ which involves the bones, muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Their treatments often target the body’s extremities and joints, such as the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles.

Common Treatments Include:

  • Joint Mobilisation
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Soft Tissue Manual Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Taping
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Self-management Programs

Over the past 20 years, there has been significant progress in understanding the human musculoskeletal system, leading to the development of various theories and manual techniques to alleviate and rehabilitate patients.



The United Chiropractic Association defines chiropractic as a healthcare discipline that emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself without drugs or surgery. Chiropractic care focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how this relationship affects health.

Assessment Process:

Chiropractors perform a range of tests before making any adjustments, including posture analysis, range of motion assessments, and evaluations of nerves and muscles. They often palpate the spine to identify issues.

Chiropractors consider the patient’s overall physical and mental well-being. They use various techniques, including hands-on adjustments, to free joints in the spine, alleviate pain, improve mobility, decrease stiffness, enhance posture and alignment, and reduce injuries. This holistic approach boosts both physical and mental well-being.

Common Treatments Include:

  • Adjustments
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Soft Tissue Manual Therapy
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Diet and Nutritional Advice
  • Lifestyle Modification Advice

Over the last 20 years, the chiropractic profession has made significant advancements in understanding the human neuro-musculoskeletal system. This has led to the development of techniques that alleviate pain and restore the body’s natural function.


Differences Between Chiropractors and Physiotherapists

The primary difference between physiotherapists and chiropractors lies in their focus and approach to treatment. Physiotherapists typically focus on muscles and use mobilisations and exercises to relieve pain. They tend to treat a wide range of conditions, including sports injuries and post-operative rehabilitation, with an emphasis on joints rather than the spine or neck.

Chiropractors, on the other hand, concentrate more on the function of the spine, pelvis, and neck and their alignment. They focus on how these areas affect the nervous system. Chiropractors use hands-on adjustments and soft tissue techniques to promote healing and optimise body function. Their approach is more proactive, aiming to maintain and enhance overall health.


Which Service Do You Need?

If you have a specific injury or require rehabilitation, physiotherapy might be the right choice. Physiotherapists have broad-based training and can address a variety of conditions, focusing on joints and musculoskeletal health.

If you are dealing with back pain, neck pain, or pelvis issues, a chiropractor might be more suitable. Chiropractors specialise in the spine and its effects on the nervous system, working to optimise overall well-being through a proactive approach to health.


At Willow, we are committed to making a meaningful and lasting impact on your health and quality of life. Whether you need help with back pain, neck pain, or a general check-up, our team is here to relieve your pain and help you live life to the fullest. Contact us today to find out how we can support your journey to better health.

Have a Question? Call 0117 980 7755

Or fill in the form and we will call you back.