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The Difference Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic

The Difference Between Physiotherapy and Chiropractic

physio chiroThe physiotherapists at My Physio Perth are commonly asked about the difference between physiotherapy and chiropractic. This question normally stems from conflicting advice and recommendations from family and friends, some that swear by physio and others that rely on chiropractic care.

The truth is that physiotherapy and chiropractic have a growing number of similarities. We all treat musculoskeletal conditions and we all have protected titles based on the completion of an accredited university course. I.e. physiotherapists cannot call themselves chiropractors and vice versa.

The most significant difference between physiotherapy and chiropractic is the underlying philosophy of each profession. Your decision regarding which practitioner to see should be based on the philosophy that sits most comfortably with you.


Physiotherapists are considered to be movement experts, aiming to restore normal, pain free movement for individuals with musculoskeletal pain or injury. They focus on manual (hands on) treatment techniques such as massage, joint mobilization and manipulation, stretching, dry needling, taping, heat and ice and occasionally electrotherapies such as ultrasound. They also place a significant emphasis on rehabilitation via the use of strengthening, stretching and mobility exercises. Physiotherapists aim to empower the individual to make a full recovery by understanding the cause of their problem and by providing self-management strategies.

Physiotherapists draw upon the best research evidence available, clinical experience, patient values, expectations and preferences to choose treatment techniques that achieve the most optimal outcome. They are primary contact practitioners, which means they are considered experts in the assessment and diagnosis of musculoskeletal conditions.

It is important to recognize that physiotherapists work in various settings and are an integral part of the allied health team. They assist with spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, post operative rehabilitation, developmental delay in children and the list goes on.


Chiropractors are considered alternative or complimentary health care professionals who focus on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders. Chiropractors consider a normally functioning relationship between the nervous system and the rest of the body to be essential for good health. Therefore in injury/illness, the chiropractor will focus on realigning the spine with adjustment techniques (cracking) in an attempt to restore normal nervous system functioning.


It is important to recognise that physiotherapists and chiropractors are both very knowledgeable musculoskeletal practitioners who use non-invasive, drug free treatment modalities.

Whilst the underlying philosophy of each profession may differ, many people find that physiotherapy and chiropractic care compliment each other well. Others have a clear favourite and some are still on the fence.

I will say that it is important not to write off an entire profession after one negative experience. As with any occupation, there are those that excel and those that don’t. Look for practitioners with postgraduate qualifications, significant experience and excellent recommendations.

Above all, find someone that you trust and are comfortable with.

My Physio Perth are confident we can help you with your musculoskeletal pain or injury. Call our Sorrento clinic on 94476152 to book your consultation.

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