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Chiropractor vs Physiotherapist: 3 Differences and 3 Similarities

difference between chiropractor vs physiotherapist

If you're struggling with musculoskeletal discomfort or mobility issues, you've probably considered turning to either a chiropractor or a physiotherapist for assistance. While these practitioners share some common ground, their respective approaches to care and treatment can differ significantly. In this article, we will explore the key similarities and differences between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist, and discuss how to determine which one might be the best fit for you.

What is a Chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mechanical disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system, with a particular emphasis on the spine1. Chiropractors leverage a range of techniques to alleviate pain, enhance function, and boost mobility. These techniques often include hands-on spinal manipulation, which is believed to restore the structural integrity of the spine and decrease pressure on the sensitive neurological tissue2.

What is a Physiotherapist?

On the other hand, a physiotherapist is a health professional who specializes in improving physical functionality and movement3. Physiotherapists employ a blend of manual therapy, exercises, and sometimes equipment like ultrasound to assist patients in recovering from injuries, surgeries, or managing chronic conditions4. Their primary objective is to rehabilitate patients and enhance their ability to perform tasks at home and work.

Top 3 Similarities Between a Chiropractor and Physiotherapist

Similarity 1: Non-invasive Techniques

Both chiropractors and physiotherapists utilize non-invasive techniques to alleviate pain and improve patients' motor abilities45. They focus on manual or hands-on therapy to treat specific conditions. These treatments are typically free from any surgical procedures or heavy reliance on medication6.

Similarity 2: Education and Licensing

Both chiropractors and physiotherapists are licensed healthcare professionals who have undergone extensive education and training7. They are required to earn a degree in their respective fields and pass a board or licensing examination to practice8.

Similarity 3: Focus on Exercise and Lifestyle Advice

Chiropractors and physiotherapists both provide advice on exercise, diet, and lifestyle, and offer rehabilitation programmes to help prevent recurring injuries9. They both focus on wellness plans for their patients beyond what they can do during a session10.

Top 3 Differences Between a Chiropractor and Physiotherapist

Difference 1: Approach to Treatment

Chiropractors primarily use hands-on spinal manipulation, while physiotherapists tend to focus more on the specific area of injury or dysfunction and often use exercise-based rehabilitation as a primary treatment method1112.

Difference 2: Sessions

Generally, chiropractic sessions tend to be shorter and more frequent, often focusing on regular maintenance adjustments13. Physiotherapy sessions, on the other hand, are typically longer and less frequent, with more emphasis on the patient's active participation in their healing and rehabilitation process14.

Difference 3: Referrals and Practice Settings

Physiotherapists often work within the National Health Service (NHS) and receive referrals from GPs and consultants15. Chiropractors, in contrast, usually operate in private practice and patients can self-refer16.

Cloverdale Chiropractor: Your Go-To Solution

Determining whether you need a chiropractor or a physiotherapist depends on your specific condition and requirements. However, if you're experiencing persistent joint stiffness, back or neck pain, or mobility issues, seeing a trusted chiropractor at Shift Clinic might be the ideal solution for you.

Our Cloverdale chiropractors specialize in hands-on spinal adjustments and other non-invasive techniques that can quickly alleviate your pain and enhance your mobility17. We believe in not only treating the symptoms but also addressing the root cause of the problem, ensuring you enjoy long-term relief and improved quality of life.


Whether you opt for a chiropractor or a physiotherapist, the ultimate aim is to alleviate your pain, enhance your mobility, and improve your overall quality of life. Both disciplines have their unique benefits, and the best choice largely depends on your specific condition and needs.

In the chiropractor vs physiotherapist debate, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. However, understanding the differences and similarities between the two can guide you in making an informed decision. Remember, the most important thing is to choose a practitioner who aligns with your health goals and can provide the care and support you need to achieve them.


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