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Physiotherapists vs. Chiropractors: which one should you choose?

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I get asked at least twice a week what I think about chiropractors.  Some people have this belief that there is an ongoing rivalry between the two professions, but it is just not true.  There is room in the allied health field for practitioners with different approaches; in fact we are all better off for it.   As a physiotherapist, I am obviously biased, but I think for some people, chiropractic treatment may be the best thing for them and for others it may be the worst thing they could do for their pain and that is where the big difference between the two professions is the most evident to me.

Physiotherapy has a much broader scope of practice than chiropractic treatment does.  A well trained physiotherapist should have the ability to manipulate the spine, perform muscle release techniques, use acupuncture or IMS needling treatments, teach core stability exercises, help work on your posture and balance or build a sport specific training program for you.  Most chiropractors focus purely on joint manipulation with a smaller percentage also using muscle release techniques like Active Release (A.R.T.) or Trigenics.  Chiropractors may be the best at using manipulation as a treatment technique by virtue of pure experience and practice, but I would prefer a clinician that has the ability to manipulate me (if need be), needle me (if need be), use myofascial release (if need be) and spend the time with me to help me prevent the problem from arising again.  A good physiotherapist should be able to do everything a good chiropractor can do and more.

The problem is that not every physiotherapist is well trained and just like any profession there are ‘good’ ones and ‘bad’ ones.  The same holds true for chiropractors.  Some physiotherapists will bring their clients in hook them up to three different machines over the course of an hour and barely pay any attention to them. 

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