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Difference Between Chiropractic Care and Physiotherapy

physio therapist massage the back of patient

Have you ever had severe back, shoulder, or neck pain followed by discomfort that continuously makes you feel fatigued? When coping with such terrible pain or injury, you should go for professional treatment to help you get rid of this condition without any further damage. But with many treatment options available, it can be hard to know which type of treatment is better for you. Typically, these conditions can be treated by two types of therapy approaches that can effectively correct your vertebral column, nerves, and muscle tissue: these are physical therapy/physiotherapy and chiropractic care.

You must be confused between these two and ask yourself, what is the difference between the two? Are they the same? And if they are the same, then why are they considered two different fields? Is one more effective than the other? If you need answers to these questions, let me tell you you’ve landed at the right place.


The term chiropractic means “to be done by one’s hand,” which is an exact depiction of this field’s focus. Chiropractic care pays special attention to the interpretation and treatment of disorders of the spine and joints, focusing on how the joints can affect the nervous system and the rest of the body’s alignment. This field was first set up in the 1890s, focusing on treatment without dependence on other forms of medical treatments.

Following is the list of some conditions that chiropractor can treat:

  • Sciatica pain(Slipped disc)
  • Neck, back, and pain in the lower back
  • Continuous motion injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • fibromyalgia
  • Whiplash and other car accident injuries
  • Migraines

Chiropractors will generally adjust a patient’s vertebrae by making use of their hands or specialized adjusting instruments in addition to using other possible treatments. The manipulation done by a professional chiropractor helps alleviate tension and pressure from nerves and muscles and restore movement for individuals experiencing chronic pain conditions.

A doctoral degree and license are needed to become a professional chiropractor. They are often independent workers; however, a few work in hospitals. They must have a robust physical appearance since they have to spend most of their time standing and continue using their hands to manipulate their patients physically.

Following are some most commonly used chiropractic adjustment techniques.

Direct Thrust Technique

It is most commonly called a low amplitude high-velocity thrust. Using a high-velocity force, the chiropractor readjusts a specific area of the vertebral column, which causes discomfort in the patient’s spine.

Gonstead Adjustment

In this technique, the spinal region is thoroughly analyzed. In any problem, the spine is realigned, minimizing the pain and inflammation in the affected area.

Spinal Mobilization

This technique aims to repair and strengthen joint function by using gentle thrusts and maximum stretching.

Activator Method Chiropractic Technique (AMCT)

In this technique, chiropractors use a tiny, hand-held chiropractic device that exerts a pulsing force to the vertebrae, the optimal motion to the joint or spine is restored.


Also known as a Cox Technique, flexion-distraction is a technique used to treat scoliosis, joint pain, and many other conditions that adversely affect your back and neck.


Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, is a broad term to describe any therapy that encourages the body to reintegrate energy and mobility. Physical therapists analyze hindrances in mobility, inappropriate adjustment of joints, muscle weakness and imbalance, wrong posture, and incorrect movement patterns to help reinstate proper movement. This involves managing and treating the nervous system, muscular system, and skeletal systems (usually known as the musculoskeletal system).
Patients can seek help from a physiotherapist for several reasons, including:

  • Unexpected increasing mobility in the elderly person
  • Sports injuries
  • Surgery recovery
  • Disease recoveries such as from disseminated sclerosis or stroke
physio therapist treating patient

Physiotherapists develop personalized treatment plans based on the patient’s underlying condition, which aims to reinforce and restore the body to become stronger, which keeps them safe from future injuries.

Techniques Used by Physical Therapists

Manual Therapy

This pragmatic approach distinguishes physical therapists from other healthcare professionals. Even though manual therapy may refer to many things, therapists commonly practice well-known tactics such as stretching, massage(acupressure), and practical exercises to readjust the whole body into previous mobility and mechanics.

Some other techniques often employed by physiotherapists that may help to alleviate pain and boost healing are:

  • Acupuncture: where fine needles are incorporated into particular body points, with the primary focus of mitigating pain and promoting recovery.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): a tiny, battery-powered instrument is used to send an electric current to the target zone to alleviate pain.

Similarities Between Chiropractic Care and Physiotherapy

The common notion is that physical therapists and chiropractors manage and treat back problems, and it is right to do so. Both professionals use a non-invasive and drug-free approach to treat musculoskeletal and back-related problems. Because both chiropractors and physical therapists work with muscle tissues, back, and neck pain, it can be perplexing to understand the difference between them. These similarities are also the primary reason why most people think that physical therapy and chiropractic care are identical. Still, there are minor yet prominent differences which we will address in a bit.


The significant difference between the two fields is that a chiropractor uses manipulation, while a physiotherapist uses mobilization techniques.

  • Manipulation Technique: Chiropractors mostly hands-on approach to realign the joints of your spine and limbs or where signs of limited movement are discovered. Light, specific manipulation techniques help to recover previous normal body movement.
  • Mobilization Technique: A physiotherapist will manage and treat the affected region by employing several massage techniques and electrical therapies.

Should I go to a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist for Treating my Nervous Problems?

This is the most asked question, I must say. Firstly, if the underlying cause of pain is linked to the spinal or nervous system, chiropractors might be a better option to seek help. But make sure that a chiropractor must have at least a five-year education on spine and nervous system health. Secondly, if a musculoskeletal injury causes pain, you should go to see a physiotherapist. Most of all, they are experts in pain management therapies. For one of the most trusted chiropractors, keep Kosak Chiropractic & Acupuncture as your first choice.

Which is Better?

In my opinion, both of these treatments are the best choices for those experiencing musculoskeletal problems. Nevertheless, an experienced chiropractor can treat many other problems like asthma, anxiety, and earaches. There are some other ways in which I think chiropractic care is better than physical therapy:

  • Chiropractic Care Provides Immediate Relief: The chiropractic technique of spinal manipulation is more beneficial in providing immediate relief from injury or illness than physiotherapy. The second-mentioned has to treat many areas of the body; therefore, many visits are required to feel relief.
  • Chiropractic Care is Affordable: Chiropractic sessions are not as costly as physiotherapy because physiotherapists charge for hands-on work and machine tests.
Difference Between Chiropractic Care and Physiotherapy

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