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Chiropractic vs Physiotherapy: What Is the Difference?

Chiropractors and physiotherapists have some differences and similarities which help you choose one.

There is a question many people search for an answer based on what, they can decide who can help them get rid of their pains; here is the question:

“What is the difference between a physiotherapist and a chiropractor and which one should I see?”

In a multidisciplinary setting, chiropractors and physiotherapists work together to address a particular musculoskeletal condition.

In this approach, the patient receives expertise and treatment style from both practitioners and the collaboration and combination of experiences from both practitioners often results in superior outcomes and the fastest time for injury recovery.

At Fulcrum Therapy, all our physiotherapists and chiropractors are evidence based and we take pride in our communication and collaborative decision making to ensure we are treating our mutual patient with the utmost care and attention that they deserve.

We truly believe our collaborative approach has the best outcome for our patient’s complaints and gets them closest to their goals the fastest.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care (aka chiropractic adjustment) is the science focused on assessing, diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders of the body, especially those that are related to the spine and the nervous system.

In other words, chiropractic care is a hands on therapy which uses mechanical joint adjustments and gentle mobilizations to restore the proper biomechanics of the affected joint as well as reduce tension and improve movement at the affected site.

Read more: Chiropractic Adjustment, Benefits, Risks and the Way it’s Done

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractors are full body musculoskeletal doctors. They have over 8 years training and are licensed with their regulatory board. Chiropractors are well versed to diagnose and treat various musculoskeletal related conditions such as acute and chronic neck pain, back pain, headaches, vertigo, hip pain, sciatica and more.

Chiropractors also can diagnose and treat conditions of the extremities such as elbow, knee, ankle and wrist.

Chiropractic treatment initiates with a full health history, full assessment and an appropriate treatment for the specific injury. Treatment consists of a combination of soft tissue therapy, chiropractic care, stretch and exercise prescription and home care advice as warranted.

What Is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the science and practice of body mechanics, body movement as it corresponds to injury, movement limitations, disability, stiffness and pain.

Physiotherapists have training and a deep understanding of various injuries affecting the body and understand the treatment protocols and rehabilitation phases to help an individual heal from their illness or injury.

Furthermore, physiotherapy is also a preventative therapy and through a combination of manual therapy and exercise therapy, it can teach patients to avoid injuries by improving their flexibility and strength.

Read more: Physiotherapy and How it Can Help Improve Your Health

What Does a Physiotherapist Do?

Physiotherapists can assess injuries and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Physiotherapists work with motor vehicle accident patients suffering from sprain/strain injuries and whiplash.

Common work related injuries also arrange visit to a physiotherapist for proper assessment and communication with worksafe to ensure a safe return back to work is provided.

Is Chiropractor a Doctor? How About a Physiotherapist?

Chiropractors are doctors of the musculoskeletal system. They have extensive and in depth training of anatomy, physiology, orthopedics as well as nutrition and rehabilitation.

Chiropractors are extremely knowledgeable in treatment of spinal related conditions and disorders and have training to appropriately diagnose and treat or refer out when appropriate.

Furthermore, neural related conditions such as sciatica, arm or leg weakness and tingling are among what chiropractors treat frequently as well.

On the other hand, physiotherapy is a 2 year masters degree and all physiotherapists have a masters degree from an accredited university in physical therapy.

Physiotherapists traditionally incorporate rehab and exercise into their treatments as we believe the right amount of movement, when combined with strength, is what allows people to heal from their injuries the fastest.

Similarities of Chiropractic and Physiotherapy

Below you can find the characteristics similar in physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments.

  • Both chiropractors and physiotherapists have training in treating injuries related to muscles and joints in the body.
  • Both can provide manual therapy through various soft tissue release techniques.
  • Both have access to use of modalities such as shockwave and ultrasound.
  • Both are knowledgeable in preventative solution and home care for injury recovery.
  • Both can provide treatment and work directly with ICBC related injuries and worksafe related injuries.

Differences Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic

ChiropracticPhysiotherapy
Whiplash and sprain/strain injuries Work related injuries such as sprains/strains
Body stiffness and tension Chronic fatigue and pain
Feeling “off” or out of alignment Sports related injuries and muscle soreness
Headaches and vertigo Acute sprained ankle or wrists
Sciatica and nerve pain Pelvic floor complaints or diastasis recti
Posture and ergonomic advice Progressive rehabilitation and exercises

Should You Choose a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist?

As you can see, there is significant overlap between what chiropractors and physiotherapists can do. That is why at our clinic, our practitioners work closely together and coordinate treatments to ensure the patient is receiving the highest quality of care between practitioners.

If you are in pain and unsure of who to see:

Trust in our process. Book an appointment with either our female chiropractors or physiotherapists and have your condition assessed.

Our chiropractors and physiotherapists are trained in detecting causes of your pain and can recommend you to see the other practitioner if they believe you may benefit from a joint multidisciplinary approach.

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