What are the differences between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist?

Chiropractors and physiotherapists are both licensed healthcare professionals who can help you regain pain-free mobility of your body through non-invasive methods and customized treatments. These professionals are also able to give wellness advice and tips for you to apply in your daily life and help you move towards a better quality of life. 

However, their main differences lie in the way they administer treatment. Chiropractors believe that misalignments of the spinal column are the root cause for many disorders and loss of function in parts of the body, due to their possible impact on the nervous system. If these misalignments are manually adjusted, the body can self-heal and future conditions can also be prevented. As a result, a large part of their treatment plans focuses on re-aligning the spine. They position the patient’s body in certain ways and exert short and sharp forces on specific joints to push them back in place. Even when the pain manifests in other body parts, the chiropractor may identify the spine as the source of the problem and focus their treatments there. 

Physiotherapists believe in regaining mobility through the gradual building of strength and flexibility. They use gentler treatment methods like targeted exercises and stretches to improve the strength and flexibility of specific muscles and joints, which can also facilitate recoveries from injuries. Physiotherapists may sometimes see a need to manipulate the spine or joints to provide pain relief and improve flexibility, but in such cases, they will exert forces across a larger area and might not focus on moving specific joints. 

If you’re suffering from pain or a loss of mobility in a part of your body, you should first consult a doctor for a diagnosis of the underlying causes. They can then recommend the most suitable type of rehab treatment for you. After you find a rehab practitioner, here are some signs you can look out for to ensure that they are qualified to help you and have your best interests at heart.

Do they ask you many questions before deciding on treatment?

Treatments by a chiropractor or physiotherapist should always be customized to your body. This can only be done if the practitioner has a thorough understanding of your medical history, overall physical condition, and your lifestyle habits. If you were not previously referred by a doctor, you should ensure the practitioner performs tests to diagnose your condition. If they immediately jump into discussing a treatment plan after you bring up your back pain, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Do they explain what they’re doing, and constantly check on how you’re feeling?

A good practitioner should be actively communicating with you during treatment. They ensure you’re aware of what’s being done to your body, and constantly assess your discomfort or pain levels so they can make sure the treatment is going in the right direction. Experiencing pain when you’re not supposed to could be a sign that the treatment technique is not right for you. You don’t want to be worse off after seeing a physio or chiro. 

Do they try to do more beyond providing relief during sessions?

Your practitioner should provide a long-term strategy for you, as well as advice and instructions for you to apply in your daily life to facilitate your recovery. Ultimately your goal is not just to relieve pain temporarily but also to regain mobility and independence as soon as possible so that you don’t have to rely on the rehab practitioner to live your life normally. 

However if they want to usher you back for as many sessions as possible even after you recover, then they may be more concerned with profits than your well-being. 

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