Have you ever had a sore back or a sore neck and not been sure whether to see a chiropractor or a physiotherapist? You kind of know that both could help as they both treat musculoskeletal pain conditions. You also know that both have a university based education, but you don’t really know much more or who might be best for you and your particular problem?
Are you Team Chiropractor or Team Physiotherapist?
Years ago, when living the corporate life, sitting at a computer all day every day, I used to get back, neck and shoulder problems all the time. I used to choose to see a chiropractor and then someone said something that made me decide to try a physiotherapist next time. To this day, I’ve been indecisive about who would be the best for me to see for my back, neck and shoulder problems that still do arise now and then, so I decided to do a little research to help clear the matter up once and for all and share what I find here on the blog.
Please note that I am not a medical professional or an expert on this subject by any means. All the information contained within this post is based purely on internet research.
Using advanced techniques and evidence-based care, physiotherapists assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders. Physiotherapy helps repair damage, reduce stiffness and pain, increase mobility and improve quality of life.
Physiotherapy extends from health promotion to injury prevention, acute care, rehabilitation, maintenance of functional mobility, chronic disease management, patient and carer education and occupational health.
Physiotherapists provide treatment for people suffering from physical problems arising from injury, disease, illness and ageing. Physiotherapists can issue sick leave certificates should it be deemed necessary to do so.
Physiotherapists can specialise in a number of different areas including sports medicine, children’s health (pediatrics), and women’s health and within these parameters there are three different areas of practise. These are:
- Musculoskeletal which is also called orthopaedic physiotherapy and is used to treat conditions such as sprains, back pain, arthritis, strains, incontinence, bursitis, posture problems, sport and workplace injuries, plus reduced mobility. Rehabilitation following surgery is also included within this category.
- Neurological- This is used to treat disorders of the nervous system including strokes, spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. It can also be used for rehabilitation following brain surgery.
- Cardiothoracic is the name given to the treatment of used asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other cardio-respiratory disorders.
Go HERE to see the common reasons people seek help from Physiotherapists.
For the most part, chiropractic treatment addresses consistent or even chronic pain that is caused by skeletal or muscular factors which, when properly adjusted, can provide relief. The actual principle that this type of treatment is based is on changing the structure and function of the skeleton and the supporting muscular systems in order to provide greater relief to the areas of the body that are causing the pain.
Most of the focus of chiropractic care is on the spine. However all of the joints are in the realm of this type of treatment as well. By addressing the joints of the skeleton, the surrounding muscle tissue and nervous system are also affected as well. In fact, the nervous system is the area in which the chiropractor is involved in trying to relieve the pain that the patient is feeling at the time.
By altering the structure through stretching, massaging and manipulating the skeleton and surrounding tissues, the effect is one that helps to bring more relief to the patient. The theory behind chiropractic care is that affecting one link in the chain can have an effect on the other links as well. This is because chiropractic treatment is based on the belief that the body operates as a whole when it comes to injury, pain and so forth. Something that affects one part of the body affects all of it. Therefore, by supplying treatment to a certain area of the body, it will then properly treat the source of the pain, discomfort or other issue as well.
There are a number of issues that a chiropractor treats using the techniques of skeletal manipulation. The most common treatments are used on the following
- Lower Back Pain & Back Injuries
- Headaches & Migraines
- Pain or Problems in Joints, such as the knee, shoulders, hands and feet
- Period Pain
- Sciatica & more
A chiropractor is licensed to carry out their services in diagnosing, then treating issues that fall within their realm through spinal manipulation and other similar techniques. Once the initial exam is complete, the chiropractor will schedule a series of treatments which may include the following;
- Pressing or pushing the spine or joints
- Using gravity and the body weight of the patient
- Alternating from slow to fast hand pressure
- Using an adjustable table to assist in the manipulation process
- Places wedges under the body or using mechanical instruments for adjustments
All of these techniques are common when treatment is being applied. Each of these techniques is designed to bring about better alignment of the spine or joints in question in order to provide relief from the pain that is being felt.
You can visit THIS SLIDESHARE to see the Top Ten Reasons to see a Chiropractor (ignore the reference to Canada – the reasons apply to all no matter where in the world you live).
So what’s the difference between the two?
A Chiropractor traditionally uses manipulation, where a Physiotherapist will more commonly use mobilisation techniques. While Physiotherapists evolved out of a combination of massage, manual therapy and rehabilitative exercises. Chiropractic has evolved from the use of spinal manipulations to treat pain and dysfunction. As such, Physiotherapists still tend to use more massage, manual therapy and exercises, while Chiropractors tend to utilize far more manipulation during treatments.
Although the professions will always have their differences – as technology and research progress, the knowledge base of physiotherapists and chiropractors become more and more similar as both professions learn what treatments are most effective for musculoskeletal conditions and use evidence based research to guide their practice.
How do you choose?
This is a decision to be made by your own personal preference. The key is educating yourself on each practice – their philosophy, what they do, conditions they generally treat, how they do it, etc. Make a decision based on what your problem is, which practice seems best matched to help with it, combined of course with which practice you feel most comfortable with.
If you’ve been as indecisive as I have, I hope this post has helped or at least made you a little more curious to better understand the two practices in order to make informed choices for future treatments so that you’re fit and fabulous and able to be #LovinLife !
Tell me, are you Team Chiropractor or Team Physiotherapist, and why? Do you go to both, deciding which one based on what your problem is? Have you been indecisive about which to go to like I have?
Ciao for now
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