What is the difference between a Chiropractor and Physiotherapist?

03 December 2021

Image of spine, which symbolises the Profession Chiropractor

There has always been a slight confusion regarding the two professions, in truth, there is a lot of overlap between the two (Chiropractor & Physiotherapist), and you’d be surprised at the similarities of both occupations. In this article we want to explore and differentiate the two professions to help you (as the reader), develop a better understanding of the two.

Physiotherapist and Chiropractors, the roles defined.

Physiotherapists: 

The Chartered Society of Osteopathy, gives a brief overview of the role. Physios help restore movement and function, when a patient is obviously impaired by a certain injury, illness or disability. They help restore function through movement, exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.

Treatment: Before any treatment is applied, a physiotherapist will typically take a patient through an assessment. The physio will need to learn as much as possible before any treatment can commence. This includes a detailed clinical history of the client, and carry out passive accessory movement screening tests which help highlight the problem and potential causes of your condition.

Physiotherapists use science based treatments in order to restore ‘musculoskeletal health’, a professional term meaning bones, muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments. They tend to focus on the body’s extremities and joints (shoulder, elbow, wrist, knees and ankles).

A list of treatments may include:

  • Joint Mobilisation
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Soft Tissue Manual Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Taping
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Self Management programmes

Over the last 20 years, there has been a huge improvement in the understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and how it works together to help you move. The profession has developed many different theories and manual techniques to help alleviate and rehabilitate you. 

Chiropractors:

The British Chiropractic Association defines the role as a professional who is trained to diagnose and treat disorders caused by the musculoskeletal system, and how that can have an impact on the body’s nervous system as well as general health.

Treatment: Chiropractors will perform a range of tests before any treatment is applied, tests may include assessment of your posture and range of movement, they may also take your blood pressure as well as examine your abdomen.

Chiropractors have a keen interest in neck and back pain, when they assess patients they also take into consideration their entire physical and mental well-being. They utilise a large range of techniques, such as hands-on manipulation to help free joints particularly in the spine as well as manual treatment to help alleviate pain and improve mobility. If you’d like to read further into the profession, we have actually covered this in our previous article. 

A list of treatments may include:

  • Adjustments/manipulations
  • Acupuncture
  • Therapeutic Exercise    
  • Spinal Traction    
  • Soft Tissue Manual Therapy
  • Physical Therapy Modalities    
  • Diet and Nutritional Counselling    
  • Lifestyle Modification Counselling    

Over the last 20 years, there has been a huge improvement in the understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and how it works together to help you move. The profession has developed many different manual techniques to help alleviate and restore your body’s natural function.

Differences Between Chiropractors and Physiotherapists 

The main differences between a Physiotherapist and Chiropractor is that traditionally Physiotherapists focus more on the muscles, and will use mobilisations and exercises to relieve pain. Chiropractors will focus more on the function of the spine, pelvis and neck and its alignment, and its effect on the nervous system through use of manipulation.

Differences in Approach Between Chiropractors and Physiotherapists

The main differences between a Physiotherapist and Chiropractor is that their treatment approach and philosophy to care is different. For example; a client might be suffering from low back pain, a Chiropractor would use hands on manipulation and soft tissue techniques to help promote healing. Whereas traditionally, Physiotherapists are less hands on, and will typically use a more rehabilitation exercise approach.

So Which Service Do I Need ?

Physiotherapy treats a lot of different injuries, and has broad – based training. They work with a diverse number of conditions, including sports injuries, and post operative rehabilitation, and traditionally will focus on joints rather than the spine or neck. Therefore, if you choose a Physiotherapist for your back pain or neck pain, we suggest you choose one that focuses on said areas. If you’re looking for a specialist in back pain, neck pain or pelvis issues, Chiropractors have a keen interest, and their training and knowledge base focuses on these areas.

If you’re interested in solving your back pain, neck pain, or you want a general check up, contact Willow Chiropractic, our aim is to make a meaningful and lasting impact on your health and quality of life by relieving you of pain and enabling you to live your life to the full!

Book your consultation today. Call 0800 511 8966

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