Difference Between Chiropractor and Physiotherapist

What’s The Difference Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractor?

Physiotherapy and chiropractic are two different types of healthcare professions that focus on improving musculoskeletal health, but they have some key differences. Physiotherapy and chiropractic are both healthcare professions that focus on treating musculoskeletal conditions and improving overall physical function. However, there are several key differences between the two.

Are you experiencing pain or discomfort? Seeking the right treatment for your condition can be overwhelming, especially when faced with options like physiotherapy and chiropractic care. But fear not! In this blog post, we will explore what’s the difference between physiotherapy and chiropractor so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care aim to improve your overall well-being by addressing musculoskeletal issues. However, they do so in different ways. So let’s dive in and discover what sets them apart – education and training, techniques used, conditions treated, benefits offered, cost comparison – everything you need to know before embarking on your path to recovery. Let’s get started!

What are the difference between Chiropractor and Physiotherapist

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping individuals restore and improve their physical function. It involves the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions, as well as injuries and disabilities.

In physiotherapy, highly trained professionals, called physiotherapists, use a wide range of techniques to address pain and promote healing. These may include manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, electrotherapy modalities, and education on proper body mechanics. The goal is to reduce pain, increase mobility, improve strength and flexibility, and enhance overall quality of life.

What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure, particularly the spine, and its function. Chiropractors believe that misalignments in the spine can disrupt the nervous system and lead to various health problems.

One of the main techniques used by chiropractors is spinal manipulation or adjustment. This involves applying controlled force to specific joints in order to restore mobility and alleviate pain. By realigning the spine, chiropractors aim to improve overall body function and promote natural healing.

In addition to spinal adjustments, chiropractors may also use other manual therapies such as massage, stretching exercises, and electrical stimulation. They may also provide advice on posture correction, ergonomic changes, and lifestyle modifications.

Chiropractic care primarily focuses on musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, and sports injuries. However, it can also be effective for managing other conditions like arthritis or digestive issues.

It’s important to note that while chiropractic care addresses structural issues in the body through spinal manipulation techniques primarily done by hand, physiotherapy takes a more comprehensive approach encompassing exercise rehabilitation with an emphasis on improving flexibility, functional movement patterns, and strength.

Education and Training for Physiotherapists and Chiropractors

Physiotherapy: To embark on a career as a physiotherapist, individuals must complete an undergraduate degree in physiotherapy, usually lasting four years. This comprehensive program equips students with knowledge in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and rehabilitation techniques. After completing their degree, aspiring physiotherapists may choose to specialize in certain areas, such as sports injuries or geriatric care, through additional certifications or postgraduate courses.

Chiropractic Care: On the other hand, chiropractors undergo rigorous training that also includes a four-year undergraduate degree but specifically focuses on chiropractic studies. During this time, they gained expertise in spinal manipulation techniques along with courses in anatomy, physiology, diagnostic imaging interpretation, and chiropractic philosophy. Following graduation from an accredited chiropractic college or university program, aspiring practitioners must pass licensing exams to practice independently.

Continuing Education: Both professions emphasize the importance of continuing education to stay up-to-date with advancements in their respective fields. Physiotherapists can pursue advanced certifications or enrol in specialized workshops to enhance their skills further. Similarly, chiropractors have opportunities for professional development by attending seminars and conferences related to new treatment methods or research findings.

Licensing Requirements: It’s important to note that licensing requirements for physiotherapy and chiropractic care vary by jurisdiction.

Techniques and Approaches Used by Physiotherapists and Chiropractors

Techniques and approaches used by physiotherapists and chiropractors differ slightly but share a common goal of improving the overall health and well-being of their patients. Physiotherapy focuses on restoring mobility, reducing pain, and promoting physical function through exercise, manual therapy, and education. Chiropractic care primarily involves spinal manipulation to address musculoskeletal issues.

Physiotherapists use a wide range of techniques tailored to each individual’s needs. These may include joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, stretching exercises, ultrasound therapy, electrical stimulation, or heat/cold therapy. They also emphasize patient education in self-management strategies for long-term relief.

On the other hand, chiropractors employ specific spinal adjustments or manipulations to correct misalignments in the spine that can affect overall health. This is done using hands-on techniques or specialized instruments designed to target problem areas.

Both professions may incorporate additional therapies, such as acupuncture or therapeutic exercise, into treatment plans based on the patient’s condition and preferences. Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care offer holistic approaches to alleviate pain and improve physical function without relying solely on medication or invasive procedures.

Conditions Treated by Physiotherapists and Chiropractors

Physiotherapists and chiropractors both play a crucial role in the field of healthcare, focusing on improving mobility, reducing pain, and enhancing overall well-being. While their approaches may differ slightly, they both aim to treat various conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system.

Physiotherapy primarily focuses on rehabilitation and movement-based treatments. Physiotherapists work with patients who have suffered from injuries or undergone surgical procedures to regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion. They commonly treat conditions such as sprains, strains, fractures, arthritis, back pain, neck pain, sports injuries, and postural imbalances.

On the other hand, chiropractic care is centred around diagnosing and treating disorders related to the spine’s alignment. Chiropractors use manual adjustments or manipulations to correct subluxations or misalignments in the vertebrae. This can alleviate symptoms associated with conditions like sciatica (pain radiating down the leg), herniated discs, headaches/migraines and even digestive issues.

Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care can be beneficial for individuals suffering from chronic pain caused by different underlying conditions such as fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis. Additionally, both therapies are often used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments to enhance healing outcomes. When considering which therapy is right for you, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your specific condition and provide appropriate recommendations based on your unique needs. 

Remember that every individual is different, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Therefore, taking into account factors such as personal preferences, the severity of the condition, previous treatment experiences, and desired outcomes will help guide you towards making an informed decision regarding your treatment options.

Benefits of Each Therapy

Physiotherapy and chiropractic care offer unique benefits to individuals seeking treatment for various conditions.

One of the key advantages of physiotherapy is its holistic approach, focusing on overall physical well-being. Physiotherapists use a combination of manual therapy, exercise, and education to promote healing and improve mobility. They help patients regain strength and flexibility after injury or surgery, manage chronic pain, and prevent further injuries.

Chiropractic care, on the other hand, places emphasis on spinal adjustments to restore proper alignment and nerve function. This can provide relief from back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other musculoskeletal issues. Chiropractors also aim to enhance overall body function by addressing underlying imbalances in the musculoskeletal system.

Both therapies have their own unique benefits but may be more suitable for different situations. Physiotherapy may be more beneficial for those recovering from surgery or managing chronic conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. Chiropractic care may be preferred for acute injuries like whiplash or sports-related strains.

The decision between physiotherapy and chiropractic care depends on individual needs and preferences. Consulting with healthcare professionals who specialize in these areas can help determine which therapy is best suited for each person’s specific condition.

Cost Comparison

When it comes to seeking treatment for musculoskeletal conditions, one important factor to consider is the cost. Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care can provide effective solutions, but there may be differences in terms of pricing.

The cost of physiotherapy sessions can vary depending on factors such as location, practitioner experience, and the specific treatment required. Generally, physiotherapy sessions range from $60 to $150 per session. Some insurance plans may cover a portion of these costs, so it’s worth checking with your provider.

On the other hand, chiropractic care often involves more frequent visits than physiotherapy. The average cost per chiropractic visit ranges from $30 to $200 per session. Again, insurance coverage may help offset some expenses.

It’s important to keep in mind that the overall cost will depend on several factors, including the duration and intensity of treatment required for your condition.

When considering which option is right for you financially, it’s essential to weigh not only the immediate costs but also the potential long-term benefits and outcomes associated with each therapy.

Choosing the Right Treatment for You

When it comes to choosing between physiotherapy and chiropractic care, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The decision ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. It’s important to consider a few key factors before making a choice.

Take into account the nature of your condition or injury. Physiotherapy tends to focus on rehabilitation and recovery from musculoskeletal injuries, such as sprains, strains, and post-operative rehabilitation. Chiropractic care primarily focuses on spinal manipulation to address issues like back pain, neck pain, and headaches.

Consider your personal treatment preferences. Physiotherapy involves various techniques like exercise therapy, manual therapy (such as massage), electrotherapy (like ultrasound or TENS), and education about self-management strategies. Chiropractors mainly use spinal adjustments or manipulations along with other complementary therapies like soft tissue work or exercises.

Additionally, think about the type of practitioner you feel most comfortable with. Physiotherapists are highly trained healthcare professionals who often work in hospitals or clinics alongside other healthcare providers. Chiropractors also undergo extensive training but typically practice in their own private clinics.

Consulting with both a physiotherapist and a chiropractor can provide valuable insights into which treatment approach aligns best with your individual needs.

Remember that every patient is unique! So, take the time to evaluate your condition carefully while considering all available options before making an informed decision about which treatment modality – whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care – is right for you.

Main Differences Between the Two Practices

Education and Training

One of the main differences between physiotherapy and chiropractic care lies in their education and training. Physiotherapists typically complete a four-year undergraduate degree followed by a two-year master’s program or a three-year doctoral program. They receive comprehensive training in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, exercise prescription, and rehabilitation techniques.

On the other hand, chiropractors undergo a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree program. Their focus is primarily on diagnosing and treating conditions related to the musculoskeletal system through manual adjustments of the spine and joints.

Techniques Used

Physiotherapists employ various techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, electrotherapy modalities, ultrasound, heat/cold therapy, and massage. They take a holistic approach to treatment with an emphasis on restoring function and promoting overall wellness.

Chiropractors primarily use spinal manipulations or adjustments to treat musculoskeletal disorders. These adjustments aim to restore proper joint function by applying controlled force to specific areas of the spine or other joints.

Conditions Treated

Physiotherapists commonly treat a wide range of conditions, including sports injuries, orthopaedic injuries (such as fractures), neurological disorders (such as stroke), chronic pain conditions (like arthritis), cardiovascular problems, and respiratory issues (like asthma), among others.

Chiropractors mainly focus on treating back pain issues such as herniated discs or misaligned vertebrae that can cause nerve impingements, leading to pain or dysfunction in various parts of the body.

Collaboration with Other Healthcare Professionals

Physiotherapists often work closely with physicians, surgeons, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and other healthcare professionals within interdisciplinary teams. This collaborative approach helps in providing comprehensive care for patients with complex medical needs.

While chiropractors do not directly collaborate with other healthcare professionals in most cases due to their distinct treatment methods, they may refer patients to other specialists if necessary.

Similarities Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic Care

When it comes to addressing musculoskeletal issues, both physiotherapy and chiropractic care offer effective solutions. While they may differ in their approaches and techniques, there are some similarities between the two practices.

Both physiotherapists and chiropractors aim to alleviate pain and improve mobility. They use manual therapy techniques to manipulate the body’s structures, such as joints, muscles, and ligaments. By doing so, they can help reduce inflammation, increase range of motion, and promote overall healing.

Additionally, both professions emphasize patient education. Physiotherapists educate patients on exercises that can be done at home to strengthen muscles or improve posture. Similarly, chiropractors often provide patients with advice on ergonomics or lifestyle modifications that can support their treatment goals.

Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care also focus on holistic approaches. They consider not only the specific area of complaint but also take into account the patient’s overall health status. This comprehensive approach allows for personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual’s needs.

In summary, the similarities between physiotherapy and chiropractic care lie in their goal of reducing pain, maintaining optimal function, and improving quality of life.

Which One is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing between physiotherapy and chiropractic care, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The right choice depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Physiotherapy focuses on restoring movement and function through a variety of techniques, such as exercise, manual therapy, and electrotherapy. It is often recommended for individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries, managing chronic conditions like arthritis or back pain, improving balance and mobility in older adults, or enhancing athletic performance.

On the other hand, chiropractic care primarily revolves around spinal adjustments to alleviate pain and improve overall health. Chiropractors believe that misalignments in the spine can cause various health issues by interfering with nerve function. They use hands-on techniques to manipulate the spine and other joints in the body to restore proper alignment.

To determine which treatment option is best for you, consider factors such as your specific condition or injury, personal preferences regarding treatment approach (hands-on manipulation vs exercise-based therapy), availability of practitioners in your area, and cost considerations, including insurance coverage.

It’s important to consult with both a physiotherapist and a chiropractor before making a decision. They will be able to assess your condition thoroughly and provide personalized recommendations based on their expertise.

Remember that each individual responds differently to different treatments. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Therefore, it’s essential to listen carefully to your body’s response during any treatment trial period. This will help you gauge whether you’re experiencing positive results or need reassessment of your therapeutic approach.

Finding the right fit between physiotherapy and chiropractic care requires careful consideration of your unique needs alongside consultation with qualified professionals who can guide you through this process effectively.


Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care offer valuable treatment options for individuals seeking relief from pain and improved physical function. While there are some differences between the two practices, such as their education and training requirements, techniques used, and conditions treated, they also share similarities in their focus on restoring health and promoting overall well-being.

Physiotherapists are experts in movement and function, using a variety of techniques such as exercise therapy, manual therapy, and modalities to address musculoskeletal issues. They work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans aimed at reducing pain, improving mobility, and enhancing quality of life.

Chiropractors specialize in spinal manipulation or adjustment to alleviate joint restrictions or misalignments that can cause pain or interfere with nerve function. They often employ additional therapies like soft tissue mobilization or rehabilitation exercises to complement their treatments.

When deciding between physiotherapy and chiropractic care for your specific needs, it’s important to consider factors such as the nature of your condition or injury, personal preference for treatment approaches, availability of practitioners in your area, insurance coverage considerations if applicable), as well as any recommendations from healthcare professionals you trust.

The choice should be based on what feels right for you personally. It may be beneficial to consult with both a physiotherapist and a chiropractor to gain more insight into each approach before making a decision.

Remember that every individual is unique, with different needs and responses to treatment. What works best for one person may not necessarily work for another. The most important thing is finding an experienced practitioner who can provide appropriate care tailored specifically to your situation.

Whether you choose physiotherapy or chiropractic care—or even a combination of both—seeking professional assistance early on can help prevent further complications down the road while maximizing your chances of achieving optimal recovery outcomes.



"Hasan", I am a physiotherapy Doctor. I have completed my B.S.c course (4 years) under Rajshahi University, Faculty of Medicine, Rajshahi. Currently I am working as a clinical physiotherapist at a renowned physiotherapy center and I am continuing my MPT (Master's of physiotherapy) degree at CRP, Savar.

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