Team Chiropractor or Team Physiotherapist?

March 16, 2017

pain, spine, chiropractor, physiotherapist

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.


physio, physiotherapist,

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.


chiropractor, skeletal, spine, bones

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?

physiotherapist, chiropractor,

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

[ Research Sources:  |  |  Australian Physiotherapy Association ]

Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit, Johanna of Lifestyle Fifty,
Lyndall of Seize the Day Project,

and Kathy of 50 Shades of Age
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all five blogs.

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  • Reply Kat March 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

    When I was younger Mum would take me to the chiro for EVERYTHING. We had a lovely old chiropractor who would never talk down to you because you were a snot-nosed teenager (as I MAY have been). Now that I’m much more active I tend to visit the physio a lot and I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been to the chiro in the past 10 years. #lovinlife

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      I’m sure you weren’t a snot-nosed teenager Kat! LOL I was asthmatic as a child so spent a lot of time at the physio back then! As an adult I went to the chiropractor for a while and then decided to switch to seeing a physio. I’ve been interested for ages to understand both better and see who other people see and why! This post is a way to to do this! 🙂

  • Reply Amy @ HandbagMafia March 16, 2017 at 6:47 am

    I’m team physio. I have actually been to a chiro but found it vastly unhelpful. The same treatment, over and over, brought me about 1 hour’s relief. Physio was far better for actual diagnostics (SI joint instability) and tailoring an individual treatment plan including exercises to do at home. When I looked into it later (which I have now, quite extensively), I learned that there is very little evidence to support chiropractic. It has some positive effect on lower back pain in some people (equal to physio results at best) but that’s it. There’s been a fair bit of research into it and yep, chiro just doesn’t measure up and can actually exacerbate problems or cause them in some people. Chiros (not all, of course) have an unfortunate association with unscientific claims and practices as well, like “adjusting” new born babies or giving anti vaccine advice, which puts me off.

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks so much for your insight Amy – so interesting! I didn’t know about the unfortunate association with unscientific claims and practices that Chiro’s have! I’m glad to hear you’ve found the right treatment to help you.

  • Reply Jan Wild March 16, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I have used both, but these days I am team osteopath. I think it has a lot to do with how well the individual practitioner suits you.

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Ahhhh yes the ‘osteopath’. To be honest I don’t know much about the osteopath. I really must learn more!

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee March 16, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I don’t use either but my partner uses both. So we even up….;)

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Haha – so funny!

  • Reply Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life March 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Being a qualified physiotherapist I am firmly in Team Physio, but I may be slightly biased – lol!


    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      Well you learn something new every day. I had no idea you were a physiotherapist Ingrid. Yes you may be just a tad biased … but that is very ok! 😉 lol

  • Reply Kathy Marris March 16, 2017 at 7:35 am

    I’ve always had physio when my back gets sore, but recently I tried a chiropractor. After seeing him over several weeks I did feel better and my back pain did dissipate, but I didn’t like how he cracked my neck on each visit. I decided to see an osteopath last week and he was fantastic. He was like a cross between the two using massage and spinal adjustments. I think I’d definitely have treatment with the osteopath again. Now I have confused everyone further! 🙂

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Aha – that’s why I decided to switch from a chiro to a physio Kathy … the cracking of my neck scared me. I would tense up which is not ideal! I really must learn more about the osteopath. You haven’t confused me – but got my interest! Perhaps I should have included the osteopath in this post!

  • Reply Janet Camilleri aka Middle Aged Mama March 16, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I’ve been to both in the past. However when I fell down our back stairs about 10 years ago, and my body just didn’t feel “right” even after the bruising faded, a friend told me about her osteopath. She described it as a combination of physio and chiro; it definitely helped. It also helped that the osteo looked a lot like George Clooney LOL!

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      There’s a few of you mentioning the osteo. I never knew much about them nor that they were kind of like a combination of physio & chiro – but I’m interested to find out more now. Do they all come looking like George Clooney??!

  • Reply Vanessa March 16, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I’ve seen a physio but not a chiro.

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      If you’re happy with the physio then I’d just stick with that! 🙂

  • Reply Leanne | March 16, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I’m a physio girl myself – all those crunching and cracking noises I hear at the chiro put me off big time. I’m always a little bit scared I’m going to end up in a wheelchair afterwards!

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      I know how you feel. I do have an interest in the philosophy of the chiro and I can cope with most of the cracking and crunching but not my neck. Cracking my neck scared me too much.

  • Reply JODIE FILOGOMO March 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Talk about a hard choice—I’ll be the wishy washy one that says I think there’s a time & place for each of them!! I’ve been to both but for different issues!! I think the body is an amazing machine, but sometimes it definitely needs a tune up!

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm

      Jodie – I don’t think that it’s wishy washy to use them both depending on the issue. I think that’s great. The body sure does need a tune up now and then. Mine needs one right now!

  • Reply Jo March 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Although I prefer the thought of Physio’s for me it’s Chiro’s all the way – neck and back pain due to too much computing! The Chiro seems to sort me out (touch wood) after a few sessions but the Physio has me there for about 8 weeks until things get marginally better if at all. #teamlovinlife

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Team Chiro at last! There’s a lot of Team Physio so far. Great to even things up a bit. Thanks Jo! lol I’m glad you’ve found what works for you! 🙂

  • Reply Lyndall @ SeizeTheDayProject March 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    I have a monthly therapeutic massage (by a qualified therapist) to keep on top of an existing back injury/ This is not relaxing massage, it’s heavy duty muscle manipulation. If I miss a month, I’m in a lot of pain by the time two months has passed. I find I don’t need further intervention if I get the monthly massages. #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Min March 16, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      That is exactly what I ended up doing when I working full time Lyndall – my regular ‘maintenance’ was a once monthly massage by a qualified massage therapist. It worked! A massage once per month kept me good. I stopped doing that once I left the corporate life but I’m thinking maybe I should go back to it.

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl March 17, 2017 at 4:59 am

    Team physio! I’ve just had a shoulder problem I’ve been ignoring for years diagnosed and treated. I had no idea how much the chronic discomfort was dragging at me before I went. I have a set of exercises I try to do regularly and I have been advised of what I should and shouldn’t be doing exercise wise.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min March 19, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      Another notch for Team Physio! Hope that shoulder problem is getting better SSG! xo

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards Sixty & Beyond March 17, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    There certainly are two camps aren’t there Min? I’ve tried both and recently went to an Osteopath which is another area again. I agree about it be one’s own preference. Thanks for writing such an informative post.

    • Reply Min March 19, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      Yes – actually 4 camps really Sue! There’s Team Physio, Team Chiro, Team both and Team Osteo! I really need to do a follow up post incorporating information about an Osteopath!

  • Reply Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit March 18, 2017 at 6:33 am

    This is actually a great debate.
    I’m team Physio. I really don’t like the chiro. I’ve tried so many times but I end up feeling worse and I really can’t cope with cracking stuff.

    • Reply Min March 19, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      It’s an interesting debate and a topic I’ve wanted to explore for some time! I don’t mind the cracking stuff – just not my neck!

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