Differences between a Physiotherapists & Chiropractors


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While there are similarities between physiotherapists and chiropractors, the two fields are distinctly different in terms of their approach and practice. Read on for a better understanding of both if you are wondering which one is for you.

The differences between chiropractic and physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a field geared towards restoring mobility, functionality, independence, and psychological well being. Physiotherapy is largely practiced in a hospital setting, in which a patient presents with an illness or injury that limits their movement and has a negative effect on their quality of life. A physiotherapist then aims to restore both mobility and quality of life by means of manipulation, therapeutic exercise, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, or any one of many different tools they have available.

While physios deal with a range of different physical issues and their presentations, a chiropractor’s practice focuses on the treatment of joints and other musculoskeletal structures like tendons and ligaments, particularly in and around the spine. Chiropractic exclusively uses techniques of manipulation to relieve pain, realign the spine, adjust posture, and restore joint function. The practice of chiropractic is very spinally focussed, and some conditions that a physio would not attribute to spinal alignment would be considered as such by a chiropractor.

While both practices utilise manipulations, chiropractors use a style that frequently makes use of shorter and more forceful movements. In contrast a physio will use these less often, and supplement their manipulations with therapeutic exercise and/or massage.

Similarities between chiropractic and physiotherapy

While the two fields are quite different, they do still share some common ground. Both use manipulations and both look to restore joint function, improve posture, and relieve pain as clinical end points. This is where the similarities more or less end however, as the two disciplines are quite different in how they are applied and why.


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