Physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment share many of the same qualities, but each form of treatment has its own benefits. First, it’s important to remember that physical therapy and physiotherapy are the same thing. Like physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments are often used to correct and treat various physical ailments, from back and joint pain to migraine headaches. However, chiropractic care requires continuous support, while physiotherapy is intended to prevent your problems from happening again. It’s also important to note that chiropractic care can actually worsen some injuries, while physiotherapy takes a more gentle approach. This guide lists five comprehensive reasons why physiotherapy comes out on top in the debate between physiotherapy vs chiropractic therapy.
1) Physiotherapy Covers More Aspects of the Human Body
Physiotherapy is a comprehensive treatment that helps patients regain the abilities they had prior to injury. Physiotherapy may also reduce the amount of pain you’re in from various conditions that cause chronic pain. On the other hand, chiropractic care focuses on the nervous system, skeletal system, and the muscles in the body that enable movement. Unlike physiotherapy, chiropractic therapy is also centered around the spine, regardless of whether or not the patient has a back injury. In most cases, chiropractors will adjust the spine even if the injury is related to an arm or a leg, but a therapist who practices physiotherapy will not unless it’s necessary. Physiotherapy wins this round of comparison between physiotherapy vs chiropractic therapy because it focuses on a wide range of problems, from sports-related injuries to weakness caused by strokes.
2) Therapists Who Practice Physiotherapy Have Better Sets of Skills
Therapists who practice physiotherapy are trained to do many of the same things chiropractic therapists can do, including manipulating the spine and releasing painfully tight muscles. The debate between physiotherapy vs chiropractic therapy has a clear winner when it comes to knowledge, because well-trained therapists who practice physiotherapy are able to perform a variety of techniques. These techniques include acupuncture, acupressure, and physiotherapy exercises that stabilize your core. A therapist trained in physiotherapy can also build a specialized program that will help you exercise and enjoy sports again. Unlike chiropractic therapists, physiotherapists also put a strong emphasis on comprehensive therapeutic techniques that will make your body stronger and healthier. Make sure you send time finding the best physical therapist in your area — it can make a big difference.
3) Chiropractors Cannot Treat Many Problems
Although many chiropractic therapists focus on multiple areas of the human body other than the spine, chiropractic therapists as a whole use manipulation of the skeleton and muscles as their primary method of treating injuries. In some cases, chiropractic therapists only use manipulation and no other treatment techniques. Therapists who practice physiotherapy know much more about the way the body works and treat it as a whole instead of focusing on just one region, even if that one region does tend to have a significant effect on the rest of the body. Therapists who practice physiotherapy have been trained to recognize a variety of conditions and injuries, and this knowledge helps them treat injuries or weaknesses that you might not have known existed. Because chiropractors usually focus on spinal issues, they do not tend to look at the whole picture to find out if anything else is wrong.
4) Chiropractors May Cause Additional Injury
Unfortunately, in some cases, going to a chiropractor instead of a physiotherapy clinic can result in worsened or additional injuries. This is especially true of chiropractors who focus more on muscle and skeletal manipulation than any other technique. Some patients do not respond well to these techniques. On the other hand, physiotherapy often relies on ultrasounds to examine injuries, sore spots, and weaknesses prior to applying treatment. Ultrasounds and other physiotherapy methods ensure you’re treated properly instead of going into the situation blindly and applying a technique that could make the problem worse. Even if you do have a spinal injury, physiotherapy is frequently a better option because of the variety of ways a therapist who practices physiotherapy will examine you to make sure nothing else is contributing to the problem. Because of the technology available to physiotherapists, physiotherapy wins this round of the debate between physiotherapy vs chiropractic therapy as well.
Is Physiotherapy Better Than Chiropractic Therapy?
Since physiotherapy encompasses everything chiropractic therapy covers, you usually don’t need to go to a chiropractor. The debate between physiotherapy vs chiropractic has a clear winner when you remember that a therapist who practices physiotherapy can do everything a chiropractor can and more. Becoming a therapist who practices physiotherapy is an arguably more difficult process, which acts as a form of quality control. This is also important when it comes to getting insured for physiotherapy; because of the training to become licensed, physiotherapy tends to have better coverage from insurance companies. In nearly all cases, patients are better off with a therapist who practices physiotherapy than they are with a chiropractic clinic.
You can still make an argument for chiropractic care, though, so have a look at our argument why chiropractic care is better than physiotherapy.
There will never be a consensus on which is better and really in the end it is up to the consumer. Some interesting points you bring up here, but also some pretty broad generalizations about both physical therapy and chiropractic.
Physical therapists, by name are therapists. This means they do not diagnosis conditions. This is why they cannot write scripts for x-rays. In fact, physical therapists in general work under another’s referral. Referrals can come from MD’s, podiatrists, dentists and chiropractors. Other than Medicare, chiropractors can write a script for patient’s to go to physical therapy. In the same venue, chiropractors DO NOT need a prescription to treat patients. There are a couple of states that have open door access for physical therapy, but even in those states, insurance companies will not reimburse physical therapy treatment without a doctor’s prescription. Just because it is a state law providing open access, that state law does not govern insurance company compliance.
Chiropractors on the other hand are not therapists. They are trained as doctors, trained to diagnose, and trained to know when to refer and when not to refer. A good bulk of chiropractic education goes towards differential diagnoses, even of conditions beyond the chiropractor’s scope of treatment. Although chiropractor’s are not trained to diagnose all conditions, they are trained to diagnose conditions. A DPT is a doctor of physical therapy degree. This makes them doctors like a PhD is a doctor, not like an MD is a doctor. The APTA (american physical therapy association) has something called Vision 2020, where they want to upgrade all physical therapy degrees to a DPT degree. To do this, they created a DPT transition program. Under the DPT transition program, a PT with a MS degree can go ONLINE and get a DPT degree in 18 months or less. Would you really consider a graduate of an online program be truly effective as a doctor?
To say that physical therapists are trained better than chiropractors I think is too broad. Don’t get me wrong, there are great PT’s out there, but there are also great DC’s too. To say PT’s can adjust like a chiropractor is just not true. I know several PT’s and not one of them will do manipulations coming out of school. The reason is because they cover manipulations in one class for about a week or less. As a patient, I don’t think that is the person I would want adjusting me. In fact, many PT’s I know won’t even do the adjustment because they are just not comfortable with it, even after many years of practice. There is however a PT out there who has made money selling something known as “osteopractic”. The PT sells “certifications” to teach PTs how to adjust patients. Funny thing is that they allow MD’s, DO’s, and PT’s to join their certification to become an osteopractor, but not DC’s. Wonder why that is? Perhaps they know some super secret adjusting techniques? Oh, and he has been investigated by the authorities more than once, and his certification classes are not recognized by the APTA for continuing education purposes.
To say that chiropractors don’t do acupressure, core stabilization, and acupuncture is misleading. DC’s are taught soft tissue techniques and many DC’s use them daily. Core Strengthening? You really believe that DC’s don’t know what to do to strengthen one’s core? To practice acupuncture you typically need to get certified and both DC’s and PT’s can do that. In fact, many don’t practice acupuncture, usually DC’s and PT’s practice something called ‘dry needling’ which is like acupuncture but not exactly the same. A PT or DC does not need a special license to dry needle, but most get certified to do it since there is some risk to patients.
I do agree that some chiropractic adjustments can be painful and yes, any high velocity, short amplitude thrust can be harmful if not applied correctly, but that takes skill and practice. This brings me back to my point above, regarding how much time PT’s in school spend learning to adjust. Also, sometimes the things that can be helpful can also be harmful if done incorrectly. In fact, an Ultrasound machine when used incorrectly at best provides no therapeutic effect, but at worst causes periosteal burns. In the end, everything comes down to how one uses their treatment modalities.
Assuming chiropractors don’t know how to do rehab like a PT is again a somewhat broad statement. Perhaps, the question is not whether they know how to or not, but rather why is it not done? The reality is, chiropractors are taught to go through rehabilitation techniques, including strengthening, mobilization, stretching, gait training, electrical modalities, etc. But, did you know that Medicare does not reimburse chiropractors for doing anything other than adjusting? In many states, insurance providers follow Medicare guidelines, so if you follow reimbursements, you will see that chiropractors tend to be more limited on reimbursements for therapies than physical therapists. It’s sad to think that money would affect how one practices, but the truth is what it is. BTW, chiropractic adjusting codes cannot be billed by physical therapists, but manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, electrical modality codes, etc are all the same between chiropractic and physical therapy; only the Evaluation and adjusting codes are different.
In the same venue, perhaps reimbursement is a reason why physical therapists DON’T adjust. If you review journals like JMPT and JAMA, you will see many interesting research articles written by PT’s about how manipulation can be more effective than traditional manual therapies. I have seen articles relating to back, neck, headaches, and shoulders. It seems that even PT’s believe adjusting joints can speed up the rehabilitation process, but why aren’t more of them doing it? I believe the answer is two fold: 1) they are not ready to do it out of school because they don’t get the proper amount of time needed to master it and 2) Insurance does not pay for adjusting for PT’s (they pay for mobilizations, of which a Grade 5 mobilization is an adjustment). But that’s where reimbursements (especially outpatient) becomes important. Usually in outpatient therapy, billing is by time spent, where a minimum of 8 minutes if billed as 1 unit. Typically in 1 hour, a PT will bill 4 units. Chiropractors have a manipulation code, which is not time specific. So, chiropractors can spend 5 minutes or 30 minutes adjusting and still get paid the same amount. A physical therapist will not get paid to spend 2 minutes adjusting, because they have to bill it under manual therapy, which requires at least 8 minutes of documented work to be billable. Should chiropractors spend more time doing strengthening and rehabilitation? Yes. Are chiropractors trained to do it? Yes. Unfortunately, people don’t relate chiropractors to doing rehabilitation, but sometimes I wonder if that is more because they don’t think they can do it. That perception is something chiropractors, in my opinion, need to step up and change.
Overall, both professions overlap, but it’s just misleading say:
“The debate between physiotherapy vs chiropractic therapy has a clear winner when it comes to knowledge, because well-trained therapists who practice physiotherapy are able to perform a variety of techniques”
You live in Oregon, did you know that chiropractors there have a very broad scope of practice? In fact, in Oregon, chiropractors are allowed to perform minor surgery, proctology, and obstetrical procedures. They also employ “chiropractic diagnosis, treatment and prevention of body dysfunctions, correction, maintenance of the structural and functional integrity of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects thereof or interferences therewith by the utilization of all recognized and accepted chiropractic diagnostic procedures and the employment of all rational therapeutic measures as taught in approved chiropractic colleges” (FCLB, 1996). Chiropractors practicing in Oregon may utilize physiotherapy devices, perform venipuncture to collect blood specimens for laboratory diagnosis, give nutritional advice, and dispense nutritional supplements from their offices. Three other States share the characteristics of an expansive scope of practice: Idaho, Ohio, and Oklahoma.
Tell me again how chiropractors have less knowledge than a physical therapist and how they can treat less things?
You’ve placed chiropractors on the same level as doctors, which is gruesomely misleading. Medicine, medical doctors, and physiotherapist are trained in EVIDENCE based practice, this is a key factor. The root of Chiropractice is non evidence based even as a straight or mixed view, Spinal Manipulation is the center piece, and it has no evidence on treating ailments. Mixed view Chiropractors will tell you that they have studied to be non medical “Doctors” and are able to diagnose are basically saying that they have studied Medicine, without going to through the course yet they claim to have the skill set of MDs, if you want to be viewed as a MD, go to med school. Do not ever think a Chiropractors is anything close to a real Medical Doctor.
Spinal Manipulations alone do not cure Cauda Enquina Syndrome, It does not cure Osteoarthritis, and it does not cure Herniated Discs. The overlaps in what Chiropractors and Physio provide, is due to Chiropractors realizing that their skill set alone is insufficient, start to pickup on other skill sets, such as physiotherapy. Being knowledgeable in a small area of physical Therapy allows Chiropractors to help patients, due to them practicing physical therapy.
Physiotherapist, are working hard at doing research and pioneering new rehab technics, Gait training programs, and new modalities, the reason why Chiropractics can perform all of these is because of the research and studies done by Physiotherapist. Chiropractors simply study what physiotherapist are outputting, Chiropractic only pioneered Spinal Manipulation which has close to no evidence of its effectiveness except for SHORT TERM low back pain relief.
Yet in order for Chiropractors to stay relevant, they need to study topics in the field of Medicine and Physiotherapy. The overlap in Chiropractors being able to perform a physiotherapist or medical doctors work is because they studied physiotherapy and medicine, but without real qualification from either field, they cannot be called a medical doctor or a physical therapist.
Facts and evidence are the pillars of modern healthcare, if that was not the case, all the left handlers would still be in an asylum for mental illness (this actually happened due to non evidence based practice). There is evidence that Medicine and Physical Therapy works, and you need to study hard to earn your place and license. There is no evidence Chiropractic, however they also *read* up on Medicine and Physical Therapy, and they claim to be able to be masters in both fields without any training from the correct institutions.
1. Chiropractors are studying what Physios study to imitate them, without going through any form of physical therapy education.
2. Chiropractors are no where close to being MD and are claiming they can diagnose problems without going through and form of medicine education.
3. Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation is non evidence based and can be dangerous in some cases.
4. Individual Chiropractors may have more knowledge as they can read studies published by Physios and MDs, but knowledge alone is not enough for you to treat someone.
There are a few things wrong with what you wrote.
“Physical therapists, by name are therapists. This means they do not diagnosis conditions.” This is largely false. If you are talking about a “medical diagnosis” then this is true, we don’t diagnose that. DPT’s do, however, perform a complete and thorough evaluation and examination on patients and can come up with a diagnosis for that patient that relates to their body structure, functional capacity, and overall physical limitations. PT’s are trained to perform special tests to help them diagnose certain musculoskeletal conditions as well.
“Chiropractors, on the other hand, are not therapists. They are trained as doctors, trained to diagnose, and trained to know when to refer and when not to refer. A good bulk of chiropractic education goes towards differential diagnoses”
– This is also misguided information. We receive education at the doctorate level and are considered Doctors of physical therapy. Every case study we do throughout or curriculum requires us to use special tests, tests and measures, history, evaluation to rule in or rule out specific diagnoses. If something is out of our scope of practice then we refer out.
I think practice of physiotherapist is quite at with horizon than chiropractic , chiropractic is only limited to musculoskeletal and peripheral nervous system.on the other hand physiotherapy furnates extensive knowledge in dealing in ICU , Emergency care unit , central nervous system pathology rehab, cardiology and pulmonology rehab , paediatric neuro rehab , pelvic floor and urogenital. So physiotherapist needs more knowledge in medical arena . Moreover physiotherapist can able to frame diagnosis of mechanical problems . Moreover physiotherapy is independent health care profession. Before dealing with any case from ICU to ward , ranging from wide medical condition, it is imperative for PT priorly confirm and take assessment of making interventions for patient . So physiotherapist should has eqvivalent knowledge as physician in clinical era..
My chiropractor injured my neck big time and my back is now worse! I’m eleven my friend went to a physio it took her 2 weeks and me almost 1 year still going!
This article, and it’s sister ‘why chiropractic is better’ are two appalling poorly written articles.
Even though they are by the same author, they both directly contradict each other. One or the other – most likely both, are either chock full of errors or simply lying.
They read like the author was just making stuff up – not a single reference or piece of evidence.
I’ve not visited this site before, but if the rest of the articles are this biased or just this wrong, I doubt it’ll be worth my time reading any of them.
Biased much?! Please do your research before posting such nonsense!
I’ve had many treatments from physios, osteopaths, chriropractors and myotherapists. Hands down chiropractic beats them all. There is no comparison in my personal opinion between the benefits of Physio therapy over that of chiropractic. Physio has caused me to have migraines. Chiropractic can stop a migraine from coming on. Pain is diminished immediately with chiropractic. I have never had this happen with Physio therapy . I do not understand this age old debate . I think physios must be told at university to hate chiros. My Physio constantly bags chiros but my chiro never does, in fact he will even refer to a Physio when his treatments are not having the outcomes that he feels they should. There is room for everyone. Doctors and physios just sound bitter and egotistical when they bag another profession. Just get over it and get on with it.
If your back hurts, physical therapy can be your ticket to relief. It eases pain and helps you to move better after the treatment.
I went to a chiropractor with chronic upper and mid back pain. i ended up with a neck problem and a lower back and hip problems. and my upper and mid back problem were never cure. so you can debate with all the faCts. but my experience tells me dont go to a chiropractor unless you are 200% sure the chiropractor is very skillful and very experienCe. Going to a chiropractor is a very high risk. i mean manupulating the spine. what if it was manipulated wrongly. and thats what happen to me. your spine is in the hands of the manipulator.
Chiropractic is about the whole body and function and prevention. I have had many patients come to me from PT injured and I help them (I am a chiropractor), we get to the root of the problems and therapist can help but should not be applying any type of manipulation which is another word for adjustments, they do not know what they are doing.
Well I am neither a PT or a DC but I have seen a PT last week for 3 days. The reason I went is bc my lower back injury felt to fragile to be seen by a chiro. Once the PT got me to my “normal” back pain level I switched over to the chiro. I don’t regret either one. I feel PT are softer with their techniques and while chiro gets to the core of my problem much faster. However I had to switch iver to chiro bc honestly PT was just to damn careful and I was getting tired of not getting a faster fix like I do with my chiro. As mentioned b4 I don’t regret seeing either one. If i feel like my pain is to fragile for an adjustment thenI will continue to see PT first.
This is so poorly written. And, your hope is to turn people off to chiropractors, really sad.
Wow.. just amazing that it is 2016 & the crazy subluxation crowd is still fleecing the public with their nonsense.
Chiropractic was made up in 1895 by a Grocer who also peddled magnets – he said he received Chiropractic from the “other world”… yep.
It is somewhat also disillusioning that an individual that is in pain would not spend just a few minutes to research this straightforward comparison between a disciplined science based profession & one of the more wackier alternatives.
Most of these comments from “chiropractors” are quite hilarious when they try to justify themselves & the original “innate intelligence” claims – 30 & 40 years of cracking peoples backs to alleviate all manner of medical conditions while taking a nice little pay check … but of course you will need many follow up appointments to really keep on top of it..!
Please use some critical thinking skills before going to see one of these Chiropractic quacks – Also don’t get caught up in the anecdotal hype perpetrated by anyone who is making a buck from any of this pseudoscience. some studies & articles that do say that Chiropractic may help with some lower back problems but the evidence is still out on this .. possibly a placebo effect.
But don’t take my word for it… type “chiropractic scam” into google & read the first page links. If this does not change your mind about throwing your money down the drain you at least can go broke knowing that a skilled charlatan gave you a bad back massage.
Using a Chiropractor over a Physiotherapist is ridiculous to say the least…