Chiropractor vs Physiotherapist — Which is Right For You?

Restore, Maintain, & Maximize Your Health

Are you seeking treatment for pain or stiffness from an injury or a chronic condition? If so, you’re probably wondering where to start.

Namely, should you see a chiropractor or a physiotherapist?

Chiropractic medicine and physiotherapy have both been around for centuries. Both practices have developed a solid reputation in the medical community due to the many benefits they offer for patients struggling with physical ailments.

From curing back and neck pain to realigning posture, these therapies treat and manage pain and mobility issues. They both use non-invasive, hands-on therapy but take different approaches.

Two big questions people often have are: what's the difference between a chiropractor vs physiotherapist, and which one is best?

The bottom line is, if you’ve hurt your back or your limbs aren’t lining up quite right, you’ll need treatment to get relief.

To help you get an idea of which treatment is right for you, here are some key benefits and differences of these two popular healthcare practices.

Chiropractor performing an adjustment on a female patient

Chiropractor vs Physiotherapist:
Similarities & Differences


Chiropractic care and physiotherapy are similar in the sense that they both treat joint and musculoskeletal conditions and help to improve mobility and strength.

Both treatments use non-invasive techniques to stimulate and assist the body in healing itself. They both also help patients recover from surgery, remedy chronic pain, and can eliminate the need for surgery in many cases.


Chiropractic medicine focuses mainly on spinal adjustment to treat issues related to back pain, neck pain, joint pain in your arms or legs, and headaches. Physiotherapists typically will not perform spinal or disc adjustments.

Physiotherapy focuses on how your body moves and functions as a whole, and involves a more comprehensive treatment plan. A physiotherapy plan involves mobilisation techniques such as exercise and stretching to treat injuries and restore motion. There are also a wide range of physiotherapy machines that can play an important role in your treatment. Physiotherapy can also be used to help treat soft tissue injuries.

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    What is Chiropractic Medicine?

    Chiropractic care is a form of therapy that treats the musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, cartilage, joints, muscles and tendons.

    Chiropractors help patients find relief from a variety of ailments through targeted adjustments and realignments to your spine and joints. They can also perform deep tissue work that targets muscles and tendons.

    In the event that an injury, illness or deformity affects the musculoskeletal system, a chiropractor can also manipulate your body to help relieve pain and improve mobility.

    Here are some examples of common issues that can be managed and treated through chiropractic care:

    • Neck, back, and lower back pain
    • Sports injuries
    • Whiplash
    • Arthritis
    • Sciatica
    • Concussions
    • Chronic headaches
    • Repetitive motion injuries
    Chiropractor Treating Siatica for a Patient

    Benefits of Chiropractic Care

    While the idea of having your spine adjusted by a chiropractor can be a bit scary to some, it’s important to consider all the amazing benefits you will experience. Here are some of the main advantages of chiropractic medicine.

    Personalized Treatment

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution in chiropractic care. Each treatment is tailored to each patient based on their health history, spinal condition and goals.

    Chiropractors assess each patient and their condition to determine the best course of action to adjust their bodies and provide relief. Patients may receive a variety of treatments and combinations of methods from session to session.

    No Drugs or Surgery

    There’s alway a risk of complications when undergoing surgery. The side effects of pain-killing medication can be significant, especially highly addictive opioid pain relievers. There’s far less risk with chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic medicine is considered a natural alternative to conventional medicine, as there are no drugs or surgery involved.

    Spinal adjustments and other forms of chiropractic therapy can help patients avoid surgery and eliminate or reduce the need for pain relief medication. The only side effect you may experience is a little short-term soreness and possibly fatigue. Very rarely are there any serious side effects.

    Chiropractor Providing Treatment for a Patient

    Provides Immediate Relief

    Chiropractic care addresses the cause of your pain. Spinal adjustments work to alleviate the painful pressure on the nerves in your spine. Many patients who see chiropractors to help alleviate chronic pain report feeling immediate or near-immediate relief. Alleviating the pressure on your nerves can have an immediate impact on your mobility, coordination and function.

    Chiropractic care focuses on treating the whole system and addressing the cause of your pain. It encourages your body to recuperate and heal, and doesn’t just mask the symptoms.

    But that’s not all — here are some additional benefits of chiropractic adjustments:

    • Decrease in degeneration of the joint and connective tissues
    • Prevention of joint dysfunction
    • Improved organ function
    • Improved joint mobility
    • Improved posture
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Boosted immune system
    • Quicker recovery after car accidents
    • Relief from chronic headaches and migraines

    Signs That You Should See a Chiropractor

    Do your back or joints feel locked, stiff and sore? Are you experiencing chronic pain and aren’t responding well to other treatments? A chiropractor may be able to help.

    Also consider contacting a chiropractor if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than a week.

    • Constant or frequent pain, especially when you are lying down
    • Pain that radiates down one or both of your legs
    • Weakness, tingling or numbness in your legs
    • Redness or swelling at the location of your pain

    Chiropractic care can also be incredibly beneficial — and safe — during pregnancy.

    Chiropractors are trained in prenatal care to better align the pelvis and help to reduce uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. When the pelvis is better aligned and balanced, it gives the baby more room to develop, resulting in less stress on a woman’s body. It will also help the baby to get into the correct position for delivery. Proper alignment means a greater chance for a smooth natural birth while reducing the need for a C-section.

    Chiropractic Treatment for Back Pain

    What is Physiotherapy?

    Physiotherapy helps rehabilitate your body’s movement and function if it’s affected by injury, illness or disability. It helps to help restore, maintain, and maximise your body’s strength, function and motion.

    Your physiotherapist will assess and identify the underlying cause of your pain and dysfunction with a wide range of diagnostic tests. They will develop a treatment plan tailored to your condition using treatments and techniques such as:

    • Soft tissue mobilisation
    • Joint manipulation
    • Muscle stretching
    • Ultrasound
    • Exercises
    • Dynamic taping
    • Cold laser therapy
    • Percussive therapy
    • Shockwave therapy
    • Cryotherapy and heat therapy

    Physiotherapy can treat a broad range of injuries and conditions including many sports injuries, and motor vehicle accident-related injuries.

    Conditions that can be treated and managed through physiotherapy include these and more:

    • Sciatica
    • Tendinitis
    • Sports injuries
    • TMJ syndrome
    • Neurological disorders
    • Musculoskeletal injuries
    • Post-concussive syndrome
    • Post-operative recovery
    • Pediatric conditions
    • Arthritis
    • Whiplash
    • Back pain
    • Chronic pain
    • Plantar fasciitis
    • Frozen shoulder
    • Foot and heel pain
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Dizziness, vertigo, imbalance
    Man working out with Elysian "e"

    Benefits of Physiotherapy

    Physiotherapy has many similar benefits to chiropractic care. It has a slightly wider range of advantages and can help treat more conditions. Here are some of the top benefits of seeing a physiotherapist.

    Reduce & Eliminate Pain

    Physiotherapists use therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques to help relieve pain and restore muscle and joint function.

    This includes joint and soft tissue mobilization, ultrasound, taping and electrical stimulation.

    Such therapies and techniques are also known to help keep pain at bay long-term.

    Improve Mobility

    Physiotherapy can greatly help patients who are having trouble standing, walking or moving. Regardless of your age, stretching and strengthening exercises led by a physiotherapist can restore your mobility.

    Physical therapists can also fit patients with assistive devices like canes or crutches and determine their suitability for orthotic prescriptions.

    Recover From Injuries

    Physiotherapy is an indispensable resource for recovery from many different types of sports injuries.

    Using a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan, seeing a physiotherapist can greatly benefit athletes and help them to recover from ligament sprains, muscle sprains, and even fractures and dislocations. In many cases it allows them to recover without surgery.

    Physiotherapist stretching a patients leg

    Avoid surgery

    By helping to eliminate pain and heal from an injury, physiotherapy can eliminate the need for surgery in many cases.

    Physiotherapy can also help patients:

    • Manage heart and lung disease
    • Recover from stroke
    • Improve mobility
    • Manage diabetes
    • Better recover from surgery

    When Should You See a Physiotherapist?

    Physiotherapy is ideal for patients who have experienced muscle strains, joint sprains or need to improve mobility. Physio is always recommended to help recover from surgery or a traumatic workplace, sports or motor vehicle accident injury.

    It’s also important to note that people of all ages are eligible for physiotherapy.

    Should You Choose a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist?

    If you’re hurt or in pain, don’t wait. Contact us right away, we’re here to help understand your situation, make a recommendation, and provide treatment!

    If you are dealing with chronic pain, are recovering from a traumatic injury, or are looking to improve your mobility, the first step towards finding relief is to get examined professionally and ask a medical professional which treatment is best suited for your condition.

    Whether that’s chiropractic care or physiotherapy, you won’t truly know until you consult with a licensed chiropractor or physiotherapist, who will help you determine your best course of treatment.

    At Elysian Wellness, we have both chiro and physio at all of our locations. Our therapists work closely and will collaborate on your care to ensure you get the best of both treatments — if and when you need them.

    Contact us today to schedule an appointment