Physiotherapists vs Chiropractor: How to Know Which Therapy is Right for You

Physiotherapists and Chiropractors have many similarities and the same goal for their patients. They both work to manage pain and promote healing to enable recovery. Physiotherapists and Chiropractors approach these goals differently.

They each have their benefits, with the main priority is to get you back to optimal health. The answer to which practice is better for you comes down to the extent and type of injury you have. To help you decide which practitioner would better suit your recovery, we have put together this guide to help you make the best decision for your health.

 What Does a Physiotherapist Do?

Physiotherapy offers numerous effective treatments depending on your condition and diagnosis. A Physiotherapist will give you a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of the pain and make a diagnosis. With your consent, the Physiotherapist will prescribe a course of treatment consisting of direct hands-on treatment combined with a specific exercise program tailored to speed up recovery.
Physiotherapists are experts in Musculo-skeletal injuries and conditions. Direct patient treatment may include Manual Therapy and Manipulation, Intramuscular Stimulation (Gunn IMS), Dry Needling, Active Release Therapy (ART), Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, Vestibular Therapy, Muscle Energy Techniques and modalities such as Ultrasound or Interferential Current.
Physiotherapists use scientific evidence-based treatment and provide education on injury recovery and management. Our practitioners treat the whole person considering history and environmental factors to optimize the best possible treatment and fast recovery. A physiotherapist’s focus is for their patients to achieve their goals, whether simply living pain free or returning to sport, work or leisure activities. The effectiveness of physiotherapy treatment is usually felt after 1 visit.

Different Reasons for Physical Therapy

Patients seek physiotherapy for the following reasons:

• Neck and Back Pain
• Tendinopathy/Tendinitis
• Sports injuries
• Injury from a motor vehicle accident
• Work Injuries
• Headaches and Migraines
• Rotator cuff strains/tears
• Sciatica
• Joint Dislocations
• Vertigo and Dizziness
• Pain related to movement
• Surgical recovery and prep
• Chronic pain management
• Posture education

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractors focus on the spine, with the same goal of helping a patient manage and heal their pain. Chiropractors look at spinal alignment and how it’s related to pain management and the body’s ability to naturally heal. Chiropractors believe any misalignment throughout your spine and other ligaments interferes with the regular nerve signals sent throughout your body, causing different kinds of pain.
Spinal and joint pain can lead to muscle spasm and headaches and is usually attributed to misalignment of the spine. Treatment is mainly hands on as a Chiropractor uses adjustments, massage and Active Release Therapy. The main goal for a chiropractor is to help your body heal through intervention of Chiropractic techniques.
As part of their evaluation Chiropractors may take X-rays of your spine to help with diagnosing spinal misalignment or subluxations. However, the most recent scientific literature does not support the theory of misalignment of the spine and there is no evidence that subluxations or misalignment can be seen on X-rays.

Different Reasons for Chiropractor Services

Patients will usually seek assistance from a Chiropractor for the following reasons:

• Back Pain
• Neck Pain
• Joint pain
• Headaches

Similarities and Differences

Below are the similarities between these two practices:
• Focus on pain management through non-invasive techniques.
• Use manual and hands-on forms of therapy.
• Treat some of the same conditions, such as headaches and neck/back pain.
• Both have the goal of improving a patient’s quality of life and wellness
• Both will give you a full examination and determine a diagnosis.

Below you will find the key differences for each service:


• Pain free movement and return of function as the primary goal.
• Focuses on whole-body function.
• Uses manual therapy and manipulation.
• Utilizes many different treatment options depending on the condition.
• Guides you through rehab exercises safely and accurately.
• Provides coaching and education, plus empowerment in recovery.


• Focuses on Pain relief and alignment of the spine as a primary goal.
• Focuses on issues related to the back, neck, joints, and headaches.
• They will perform manipulations and adjustments to help you heal.
• May provide an exercise plan.

To answer the original question of which one is better for you, it comes down to your condition. Consult your doctor if you want another opinion and professional recommendation. However, a doctor’ referral is not required for Physiotherapy for Chiropractic services.

Finding the right treatment is essential to healing your injury properly and quickly. Book an appointment with us today by filling out a contact form here or calling us at 604-332-4486.