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what is the difference between chiropractic and physiotherapy

How Physiotherapy and Chiropractic Differ

Finding the best treatment for your pain can be challenging, and we frequently accept care without fully understanding whether it is the best choice for us. Local physiotherapists or chiropractor offices often receive referrals from people with unpleasant ailments.

So what distinguishes chiropractic treatment from physiotherapy? There are numerous distinctions to be aware of, even though practitioners of both treatments concur that a spine in alignment is essential for pain management.

Differences between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic

The main difference is that a chiropractor manipulates the spine and extremities and requires two more years of education. In contrast, physiotherapists frequently use mobilization techniques and rehabilitation exercises and need two fewer years of education and training.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractic adjustments (joint manipulation)—either in the spine or in the extremities—are typically used to treat pain and other problems with body alignment. Manipulation is a rapid manual technique that extends the range of motion of the treated joints. Chiropractors can also use soft tissue procedures, stretching, active release therapy, Graston, strengthening, and rehab techniques.


Symptoms and the Patient’s Medical History

To prepare for the chiropractic appointment, the patient will be asked to fill out questionnaires that give background data on their symptoms and condition. In addition, patients are typically questioned regarding their family’s medical history, any pre-existing conditions or past injuries, and any treatments they have gotten from other healthcare professionals in the past and present.

The Chiropractic Evaluation

A comprehensive chiropractic examination includes general assessments like posture, gait, and spine alignment. Additionally, specific orthopedic and neurological tests are utilized to assess the following:

  • The affected body part’s range of motion(s)
  • Muscular tone
  • Muscle endurance/strength
  • The health of the nerve system and the brain
  • Core or joint stability

Additional chiropractic tests, such as functional mobility screens or sports-specific assessments, may be needed to further analyze the injury and afflicted area.

Diagnostic Studies

Based on the patient’s history and chiropractic exam findings, diagnostic studies may effectively reveal pathologies and identify structural anomalies to diagnose a problem more accurately. Although x-rays are frequently used as part of an initial chiropractic examination, they are not always required.


The chiropractor’s diagnosis is frequently aided by information obtained from the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. In addition, the chiropractor can determine if the condition will respond to chiropractic care after making a diagnosis.

Body Adjustments/Spinal Manipulation

In a chiropractic adjustment, a qualified professional (a chiropractor) uses their hands or a small tool to apply a controlled force to a spinal joint. Improved physical function and spinal motion are the goals of this therapy, commonly known as spinal manipulation. Spinal mobilization, which doesn’t include a thrust and is performed with the patient in control within a joint’s natural range of motion, is distinct from spinal manipulation.

When performed by a trained and registered practitioner, spinal manipulation is safe. Short-term muscle soreness, stiffness, or increased discomfort are spinal manipulation’s most common side effects.

The complete body is examined and treated with a full-body chiropractic adjustment, leading to increased mobility and decreased discomfort. Various chiropractic techniques are employed in this treatment to relieve tight and painful joints.

Further Treatment Plans

For most types of lower back pain, a treatment prescription of 1 to 3 chiropractic visits per week for 4 to 6 weeks will be recommended, followed by a chiropractor re-examining. Data suggest that undergoing chiropractic treatments once a week for a few weeks can help with back pain; numerous studies have been conducted on spinal manipulation for lower back pain.

One study found that obtaining three to four chiropractic adjustments a week for four weeks significantly reduced back discomfort.

In a different study, those who visited a chiropractor for six weeks and had hands-on adjustments in zero, six, twelve, or eighteen sessions were compared. Again, all the groups that got chiropractic care benefited. However, the results were slightly better in the group that received 12 appointments (2 per week) over six weeks.

Depending on the issue, a chiropractor may suggest a maintenance regimen involving continuing exercises and frequent spinal manipulations.

what does physiotherapist do

What Does a Physiotherapist Do?

Movement disorders can be identified, treated, and prevented by physiotherapists. Physiotherapy improves a person’s mobility and functional ability during rehabilitation. To figure out what might be causing your issue, they examine the interactions between your skeletal, muscular, and neurological systems. Then they analyze other parts of your life that may be impacted, such as your profession, hobbies, or sports participation.

Physiotherapists might employ manual techniques for joint mobility or massage to loosen up tight muscles or connective tissue. They frequently recommend activities for you to perform on your own as well.



The therapist will ask you about your medical background and evaluate your physical state right now. Your range of motion, reflexes, sensation, movement patterns, strength, and pain patterns are all examined. The physiotherapist will review any files, pictures, or reports you’ve submitted after the physical assessment. 

Examples include X-rays, radiological reports, laboratory results, surgery notes, and other medical documents. Based on this data and an assessment, your physical therapist will design a customized treatment plan to assist you in reaching your objectives.

Stretches and Exercises

Three types of physiotherapy exercises are typically included in rehab programs, even though each patient’s physiotherapy program is distinct and tailored to their particular physical limitations. These include strengthening, range of motion, and balance.


Static balance is the ability to manage your body while it is stationary, whereas dynamic balance is the ability to control your body while it is moving. Muscular control and deep core stability are necessary for good balance.

When your dynamic balance is disrupted, you have poor muscle and joint control, leading to instability-related illnesses such as back discomfort, hip impingement, bursitis, sprained ankles, or knee pain.

Balance exercises help enhance balance and proprioception, or knowledge of the joint position addition. In addition, they assist in maintaining and adjusting your center of gravity as it fluctuates.

Range of Motion

The range of motion of a joint is the distance it can move between completely stretched and fully flexed. There are three range-of-motion exercises: passive, active-assistive, and active.

Passive Range of Motion Exercises

Passive range of motion exercises involves the physiotherapist moving your limb along the joint spectrum while you stay still. This is frequently done if you cannot mobilize a limb alone. His passive stretching can aid in easing stiffness and promoting flexibility.


Although the patient can move the limb, the physiotherapist helps them until they reach the end of the joint’s range of motion or until pain sets in. Then, as the patient’s strength and flexibility increase, the therapist helps them move their limbs through a range of motion, gradually increasing the intensity of the exercises.

Active Exercises

Active exercises are when the patient moves without the physiotherapist’s assistance. Active exercises are frequently employed in physiotherapy because they enhance range of motion, develop strength and endurance, and lessen pain. Additionally, they can be utilized to improve coordination and balance.


Muscles are strengthened by strengthening workouts to stop further harm. Strengthening activities fall midway between muscle-building movements with low repetition counts and light resistance and endurance exercises with high repetition counts and heavy loads.


There are two types of stretching: static and dynamic.


Static stretching is the most secure and straightforward method of stretching. Static stretching entails maintaining a stretch position while stationary. During rehabilitation, your doctor might advise static stretching.


Active muscle actions that move a joint through its complete range of motion are a part of dynamic stretching. Like static stretching, your doctor may advise you to do this during rehabilitation.

Which Do I Need: A Physiotherapist or a Chiropractor?

When comparing the two, how can you tell which chiropractor or physiotherapist you need? Both chiropractors and physiotherapists treat and manage your body’s pain and stiffness using manual approaches. Professionals with a license and years of science education work in both professions.

Both doctors examine you, talk to you about your medical history, and recommend testing. Physiotherapists and chiropractors have similar objectives for their patients but achieve them differently. For example, physiotherapists manipulate the patient, while chiropractors employ quicker, more powerful movements. The manipulations performed by a physiotherapist are gentler, less strenuous, and often combined with massage or exercise.

Depending on your situation, you might even wish to visit a chiropractor and a physiotherapist to ease pain and enhance your quality of life. In other cases, you might also factor in a different professional, like a massage therapist.

The Bottomline

Chiropractic care and physical therapy, sometimes referred to as physiotherapy, both concentrate on employing noninvasive methods to manage pain and other symptoms. In addition, both fields utilize hands-on treatment to address particular ailments. If you have pain or find it challenging to move around, discuss with your doctor whether physical therapy (PT) or chiropractic care would be beneficial.

Fountain Wellness provides physiotherapy and chiropractic services for your best health and function. Together, you and our skilled therapists will create a treatment strategy tailored to your requirements. So contact Fountain Wellness immediately if you’re seeking a treatment wellness centre to help you live your best life. We’re excited to support you in achieving your wellness objectives!