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Chiropractors vs Physiotherapists

The Chiropractors vs Physiotherapist issue has had many confused for ages. “Should I see a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist?” is one of the most common questions people suffering from muscular or skeletal pain ask themselves. It is true that pinpointing the treatment you need is often difficult, but, then again, you should leave that question to a professional.

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The difference between a Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor 

Physiotherapy and Chiropractic have many things in common. Both Physiotherapists and Chiropractors treat musculoskeletal issues as to decrease (and, ultimately, eliminate) pain and increase patients’ movement and stamina. Physiotherapy exercises come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the patient’s condition.

The main difference between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic is that a Chiropractor most often uses manipulation- and a Physiotherapist - mobilisation and educational techniques.

Chiropractic manipulation vs mobilisation techniques

Chiropractic manipulation techniques are aimed at adjusting the joints of the spine and limbs. Chiropractors use their hands to restore patients’ normal body movement. The technique is most commonly used for treating extremity joint conditions, chronic low back and neck pain, and neck-related headaches, dizziness, and vertigo. Chiropractors may be a better choice for soft tissue-, muscular-, and joint problems. Chiropractors also take x-rays, which are called for in cases of pathology and trauma. Finally, chiropractors may choose to use alternative methods, such as acupuncture and dry needling to improve their treatments. They never prescribe drugs, which they consider part of “conventional medicine”. 

Physiotherapy mobilisation techniques encompass more than just massage, and are usually accompanied by exercise and electrical therapies. The goal is the same – restoring normal body movement. These techniques are most commonly used for treating back and neck pain, repetitive strain injury, ligament and tendon damage, swelling in joints, sports injuries, and arthritis. Physiotherapists may be a better choice for back pain and certain joint problems.

Physiotherapy may help with decreasing pain, improving function, restoring normal joint range of movement, implementation of rehabilitation programmes (most commonly, post-operative), and ergonomic assessments.

Since the two professions overlap a good deal, the best choice is to consult both sides and decide which technique you would prefer.

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Osteopaths vs Chiropractors

Unlike a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist, an Osteopath focuses on the entire body rather than on just muscular and spinal system. Osteopaths look for causes rather than simply deal with consequences. The osteopath helps fight pain, but that is not their only role. Namely, osteopathy is a theory of disease presuming that the interference of a deformed part of the skeleton with the adjacent nerves is the cause of most diseases. Osteopaths, hence, often combine various techniques, such as body manipulation, massage, and physical therapy.

Both Osteopaths and Chiropractors engage in techniques that involve the moving of the patient’s body outside its usual range of motion. Chiropractors will perform it by swiftly moving a joint, whereas Osteopaths will use a repetitive technique to stretch the surrounding muscles.

The main difference between Osteopaths and Chiropractors is that the first are concerned with the entire body and the latter – with joints, spine, and muscles. Hence, an Osteopath may be a good choice for patients suffering from digestive or respiratory problems.

There is no study that indicates whether Chiropractors are better than Physiotherapists and Osteopaths. Where their professions overlap, it comes down to patients’ personal preference.

Functional movement

Functional movement is the essence of chiropractic, osteopathy, and physiotherapy. For these professionals, it is considered the very foundation of health itself. All three branches help people maximise their ability to function and move seamlessly.

Physiotherapists combine their expertise with practical skills to identify the limitations of patients’ performance. They acknowledge that psychological and social factors can play an important role in patients’ well-being. Because of that, a physiotherapist will also offer professional advice on how the patient is to best achieve their goals.   

Simplified further, a Physiotherapist addresses a patient’s capability threefold. First comes improving the movement and function by traditional treatments. Second comes rehabilitation and medical advice. Third comes challenging the psychological and social factors that limit patients’ functional movement.

Physiotherapy is famous for maintaining a strong bond between clinical and academic environments. As such, it is valuable not only in terms of restoring patients’ movements to normal, but also in terms of providing strong psychological support.

Should I choose a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist for treating back pain? 

This is the most common question of all. Everything considered, the choice depends on individual preferences. There is no right or wrong answer, but that does not mean there are not some helpful facts to take into consideration when making the final decision.

Firstly, if the pain is caused by spinal or nervous system-related problems, chiropractors might be a better choice. Keep in mind that a chiro has received at least a five-year education on the spine and nervous system health. They also specialise in pain management and may design specific exercises to aid the recovery.

If the pain is caused by a musculoskeletal injury, Physiotherapists might be a better choice. After all, they are masters of pain management therapies.

Where is the pain coming from?

This is the most important question. Unless you’ve suffered a common sprain, the pain may be coming from a variety of sources.

Skeletal pain is dull and often manifests itself during sudden movements. These symptoms suggest a joint or a bone condition. Skeletal pain can also be sharp, in which case it is commonly caused by a fracture (sometimes even a bruise).

Muscular pain is sharp and surrounds the affected area. It is often caused by strains and tears.

Nerve pain is a burning sensation and usually covers only a small part of the body. It is often accompanied by muscle weakness.

So, who do you choose? The best choice of action is to consult both a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist and base the final decision on their suggested approach.

Chiropractors vs Physiotherapists 

As you can see, really it's a personal choice to see either a chiropractor or physiotherapist. Some prefer to consult with both, and choose the method you find most comfortable. Sign up at Becon Health to find just the professional you need today.

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