Physiotherapy vs Chiropractic

What’s the difference?

Physio and Chiro are commonly compared with each other as there can be some overlap. The first important thing to recognise is that there are a range of physios and a range of chiros and they all operate slightly differently between professions and within their professions.

The chiropractic association of Australia defines chiropractic as “focusing on the detection and correction of aberrant spinal function and its subsequent effect on how the nervous system controls and coordinates the body.” This is the key difference among the majority of chiropractors – the focus is on assessing and treating the spine as a way to manage the rest of the body.

Physiotherapy, on the other hand, works on the principle that there are many other areas of the body that can also be sources of pain. The spine could be driving our back pain, or perhaps it is the way that we walk that is changing the way we take load through our joints and causing pain elsewhere.

Physiotherapists use evidence-based assessment techniques to diagnose the source of pain and dysfunction in the body.

Both professions can involve similar treatment techniques, such as massage or spinal mobilisation. Both professions aim to provide pain relief and improve function.

The emphasis on particular techniques and the reasoning behind our decisions is where we really differ. In the majority of cases you can assume improving spinal mobility (such as through manipulation or other gentler forms) will be a part of chiropractic treatment. While in physiotherapy it is likely a significant part of the session will be devoted to improving your posture or movement patterns or correcting your mobility and strength through exercise.

Any good therapist, however, should be giving you strategies to manage and improve your condition, such as advice about appropriate activities and an exercise program to do at home.

If you are unsure as to whether which is more appropriate for your problem, don’t hesitate to give us a call!