Physiotherapy Versus Chiropractic Treatment: What’s the Difference?

When you are dealing with injury and pain, you want to make sure you are receiving the best treatment possible to achieve maximum results.

However, with so many therapy options out there, which one do you choose?

In recent years, both physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment have come to the forefront of alternative medicine.

Instead of simply treating the symptom of pain with medication, we now have sophisticated therapy methods that can get to the root of the issue and facilitate long-term healing and the prevention of future injury.

But, again, which one do you choose? Is physiotherapy right for you or should you see a chiropractor?

While your doctor can certainly help you distinguish between these two healthcare services, here is a guide to help you differentiate between these two forms of therapy:

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists are healthcare professions who study the science of movement and can diagnose the root cause of an injury.

They address injuries as well as chronic pain that affects movement, function, and quality of life. They can provide post-surgery treatment and even provide care following a heart attack or stroke.

Overall, physiotherapy focuses on both prevention and rehabilitation for problems caused by injury, disease, or disability such as:

  • Musculoskeletal issues such as neck pain and back pain
  • Issues with bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments (arthritis, etc.)
  • Lung problems (asthma, etc.)
  • Pelvic issues (bladder and bowel problems, etc.)
  • Loss of mobility due to brain or spine trauma (Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.)
  • Fatigue, pain, inflammation, stiffness, and loss of strength

Physiotherapists work to identify your unique needs and challenges to provide a treatment plan. Methods of treatment can include hydrotherapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and reflexology.

They will teach you how to perform exercises to facilitate your healing and prevent future injuries.

Physiotherapy: Education and Certification

Physiotherapists must gain formal training in order to practice in Canada. This includes a master’s degree in physiotherapy from an accredited institution in Canada following an undergraduate degree complete with pre-requisites.

The master’s program includes courses in various subject areas such as pathology, anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology. Prospective physiotherapists must also complete at least 1,000 clinical hours through hands-on learning.

Lastly, they have to complete a physiotherapy national exam to receive their license to practice in Canada.

The Benefits of Physiotherapy:

  • Eliminates or reduces pain
  • Helps in avoiding surgery
  • Reduces dependency on medications
  • Improves overall strength and coordination
  • Boosts cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • Manages and prevents future injuries
  • Helps maintain overall health and fitness
  • Manages heart and diabetic conditions
  • Helps during pregnancy and post-partum care
  • Improves mental health

What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractors are experts when it comes to the spine, muscles, joints, and the nervous system. They are trained to evaluate, diagnose, and deliver a treatment plan that manages issues with these systems.

Their area of expertise also includes radiology, pain management, rehabilitation, and exercise.

Chiropractic treatments are used to address back pain, neck pain, arthritis, headaches, injuries, and more. They involve hands-on, non-invasive treatment without the use of drugs to safely and effectively relieve pain and improve overall function.

Chiropractic care uses various treatments included manual adjustment techniques and soft tissue therapy.

Chiropractic Care: Education and Certification

In order to become a chiropractor in Canada, one must complete at least 6-7 years of post-secondary education and complete over 4,200 hours of specialized training.

Once their education is complete, graduates must pass standardized regulatory exams and attain a license to practice in Canada.

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care:

  • Improves neck and back pain
  • Reduces dependency on medicated pain relievers
  • Potentially reduces osteoarthritis symptoms
  • Eases headaches
  • Reduces symptoms of scoliosis
  • Improves posture
  • Improves physical performance

Physiotherapists and Chiropractors Have Overlapping Qualities

As you can see, both physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment have overlapping qualities and address many of the same physical issues.

However, it’s important to distinguish the differences between the two in order to ensure you are receiving the right treatment for you.

When it comes to the similarities, both specialists use manual, hands-on techniques and additional tools to relieve tension and pain. They also address similar problem areas such as the lower back, legs, nerves, joints, and muscle tissue.

Both forms of treatment promote stretching exercises to enhance healing and increase strength.

As far as the differences between the two go, physiotherapy focuses on movement disorders in order to rehabilitate and improve your ability to move and function.

They do this by looking at the interaction between your skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems as well as your lifestyle to see what is contributing to your issues.

Chiropractors, on the other hand, generally treat pain and altered body alignment issues by manipulating the joints either in the spine or limbs.

This can involve a fast manual technique that pushes joints to their available range of motion or soft tissues techniques such as sustained pressure and direct oscillations.

The main difference between physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment is that a chiropractor uses manipulation of the spine and limbs whereas a physiotherapist’s approach to treatment is focused on mobilization techniques and rehabilitation exercises.

How to Choose Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic Care

The best way to determine which form of treatment is best for you is to talk to your primary healthcare provider about your symptoms and pain.

If your pain is more joint and spinal related, chiropractic care may be the best course of treatment.

If the pain is muscle and movement-related, you could benefit from the services of a physiotherapist.

Of course, you can always book an appointment for a consultation with a chiropractor and physiotherapist and have them complete an assessment. They can get the full scope of your condition and work with you on a treatment plan.

Because both chiropractors and physiotherapists are dedicated healthcare professionals, they will often recommend the other’s service as additional support in order to facilitate your recovery and improve your overall health and wellness.

The Difference Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic Treatment

The decision between seeing a physiotherapist or a chiropractor all comes down to the nature of your condition and where you are experiencing pain.

Both are excellent and effective forms of treatment that can address your physical challenges and facilitate your recovery!

In order to make this choice, you can speak with your doctor or book an assessment to determine the best course of treatment.

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