What Is The Difference Between A Chiropractor And A Physiotherapist?
“Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?”. A question that gets asked every now and then is, “should I see a chiropractor or a physiotherapist?”. While there are many similarities between the two professions, there are also several differences.
Let us begin with the similarities. Both chiropractors and physiotherapists require years of additional university-level training. Afterwards, they must pass various provincial and national licensing board examinations.
They are both health professions focused on helping people recover from their injury, improve and maintain their health. They both fall under the larger umbrella of conservative care which is the approach used in treating the majority of neuromusculoskeletal (nerve, muscle and bone) problems before surgical options are considered.
The treatment methods used are for the most part considered to be more “natural” and hands-on, as opposed using medications or surgery. They often both incorporate exercise rehabilitation and postural recommendations as part of their care plans. Both chiropractors and physiotherapists see and help patients with similar problems such as back injuries, shoulder pain and motor vehicle collision injuries.
Now on to some differences:
Chiropractors can and often do treat most areas of your body. However, they generally tend to focus more on your spine and related structures. Their aim is to improve areas of your spine that are not moving well or have proper mechanics.
One of the biggest differences is with the treatment used. The main treatment used by chiropractors is the adjustment. This can be performed by an instrument or by hand. By improving the function of your spine, this helps alleviate whatever pains you may be dealing with. A typical visit with your chiropractor may be anywhere from just a few minutes to 15 minutes.
Chiropractors also recognize that your nervous system controls everything in your body, from your muscles to your organs, from your head to your toes. By reducing your spinal tension, this reduces the stress on your nervous system and improves your body’s ability to function and heal.
The goal of physiotherapy is to restore proper movement patterns and correct muscular imbalances or weaknesses in order to reduce your discomfort and improve your body’s ability to move properly. Physiotherapists treat a variety of injuries and problems. While they can help those with back pain and headaches, they also treat other injuries such as ankle sprains and knee injuries.
The services they provide also includes post-surgical care as well as post-stroke rehabilitation, areas that chiropractors seldom treat. In general, physiotherapists employ a variety of techniques and treatment methods into their care plans. This can include manual therapy, acupuncture, electrical modalities, ultrasound and visceral manipulation. They also tend to place a greater emphasis on exercise rehab.
A typical session with your physiotherapist is between 30 to 60 minutes.
So who should I see?
If you are still confused, then a simple suggestion would be this: while you can benefit from seeing either type of practitioner, chiropractors tend to see more patients with back, neck or headache problems, whereas physiotherapists tend to see more patients with arm or leg problems.
Clear as mud?