Chiropractor or Physiotherapist? This is one of the most commonly asked question by our patients. Well, this is quite a controversial topic I must say. I do believe all health professionals have their own place in the treatment of a patient. However , there seems to be a lot more awareness about Chiropractors! They are great at marketing! On the other hand, Physios do not do enough marketing of their profession! People still seem to associate Physio with sport injuries or hospital treatment. Almost everyone seems to think Chiropractors are the answer to everything from headaches to ankle pain. Hence, it makes it quite frustrating for Physios to answer this question. Here is my two cents worth.
What does a Physiotherapist treat?
Physiotherapy involves a complete assessment of your injury or pain. Physios are capable of diagnosing a problem, without scans and X rays, I must mention. They can tell you exactly where the pain is coming from.
Once, we know where the pain is coming from, we can treat it. Physios work with their hands to achieve changes in the muscle and joints. So whether it is muscle pain, joint pain, injury at work or sports, Physios can diagnose it. They aid their treatment with specific exercises. Hence, Physios work in a lot of different settings such as hospitals, aged care, private clinics and sports teams. If they are unable to help you, they will refer you to the right professional.
What does a Chiropractor treat?
I believe chiropractors work mainly with the spine. They do not work with joints of the limbs. They work by doing ‘thrust’ movements of the spine which improves the joint movement. Hence, chiropractic treatment will work well for patients with stiffness as the main complaint. I have also seen good results with headaches but it is temporary.
According to the Australian Chiropractic Association, chiropractor work “By using a variety of non-surgical techniques, such as specific spinal adjustments, manual therapy and low-force intervention, chiropractors offer a drug-free, hands-on approach to spinal healthcare”.
However, chiropractors are not able to help with disc injuries, muscle injury or injuries of the limbs. A good chiropractor will certainly refer you to a Physio if they are unable to treat a particular injury. Unfortunately I have seen many disc issues made worse after chiropractic treatment.
I would work well with my Chiropractor colleague if i could trust that they would keep the patients best interest in mind.
I hope the above gives you a better understanding of where Physios and Chiropractors stand and what conditions they can treat.