The Difference Between Chiropractic And Physiotherapy Treatment

Even though chiropractic vs physiotherapy care differ, there’s a lot of overlap in what the two disciplines treat – and the demand for both chiropracty and physiotherapy services is only increasing.

There are some 68 physiotherapists for every 100,000 Canadians (about 25,000 nationally) and 9,000 licensed chiropractors in Canada, total. Both professions, in other words, are on the rise.

And that’s important. Getting the appropriate treatments for your specific needs is arguably the most important step of your healthcare journey. After all, you could be receiving the highest quality treatment on earth, but if it’s not the right treatment for your situation, it won’t do you much good.

That’s why understanding the key differences between chiropractic vs physiotherapy care is critical.

The first thing to note: the physiotherapy vs chiropractor differences are distinct, but the two also share a lot in common.

Both chiropractors and physiotherapists will treat:

  • Joint pain
  • Skeletal pain
  • Neck pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Range of motion issues
  • Soft tissue issues
  • And more

In other words, there’s quite a bit of overlap in what they can both treat. The distinctions really develop as we dive into the methods they use to treat these issues.

When it comes to the differences between physiotherapy vs chiropractor services, a physiotherapist will more commonly use joint mobilization techniques to treat injuries and restore motion, whereas chiropractors will focus more on joint adjustments.

At the end of the day, both chiropractic treatment and physical therapy/physiotherapy are meant to decrease pain and otherwise provide long-term pain relief.

Now that we’ve answered ‘what is the difference between physiotherapy and chiropractic care’ let’s take a deeper look into the specific techniques that physiotherapists use that differentiates them from chiropractors.


Chiropractor vs Physiotherapy Techniques

To reiterate: while a chiropractic care provider will primarily use joint adjustments when the provider treats an injury, a physical therapist has a variety of techniques and methods at their disposal to help patients recover from all manner of issues, ranging from sports injuries to muscle pains to even mobility impairments from nervous system damage.

Let’s take a quick look at two common physiotherapy techniques and how they differ from chiropractic treatment:

  • Manual Therapy
  • Electrotherapy


Manual Therapy

By kneading and manipulating muscles, a physiotherapist will be able to relieve pain and restore mobility.

This is in contrast to a chiropractor, who will use joint techniques to help achieve similar results.

In other words, the physiotherapist will focus on musculature while a chiropractor is focused on your joints.

For contrast, chiropractors typically treat these issues using:

  • Soft-tissue therapy where they work to relax tight muscles, relieve spasms, and release tension in the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds each muscle)
  • Adjustments where they realign joints and help boost range of motion
  • Joint bracing/taping in order to support sprained joints or muscles as they heal

What’s more, when receiving manual therapy from a physiotherapist, you’ll typically be given regular exercises to be performed outside of your appointments to help hasten the recovery process. You may also receive strengthening exercises as well.

Working with a chiropractor, however, you’re less likely (if at all) to receive an exercise routine.



Using a mild, gentle electrical pulse, electrotherapy has been shown to stimulate your body’s natural painkillers.

Electrotherapy is often used to reduce toxic inflammation in the body and improve range of motion in the muscles. It’s also been shown to be an effective pain reliever.

Chiropractors, by contrast, do not have electrotherapy (or ultrasound therapy) capabilities, with their focus again being centered on joint adjustments.

Chiropractic vs Physiotherapy – Getting the Right Treatment for You

chiropractor vs physiotherapy

The simple fact is that your healing journey will take a holistic effort from a variety of sources that could include physiotherapists, chiropractors, and medical doctors.

That’s why we here at White Pine Health offer a full range of physiotherapy and rehabilitation services as well as chiropractic services in the Brampton area and in our newer Vaughan physiotherapy clinic.

We are committed to patient-centred treatments and that means we never cut corners. Our priority is to relieve pain and restore motion, and we have expertise in a variety of techniques and disciplines in order to achieve those desired results.

Every patient’s unique conditions and needs are taken into account when we build a specialized treatment plan for them, ensuring optimal health outcomes.

White Pine Health also offers virtual physiotherapy sessions, so that you can receive the care you need right from the comfort of your own home. Contact us to book a free 20-minute video session today!

Tahmineh (Tammy) Kamza

Physiotherapist Dry Needling Provider Hydrotherapist   Tammy graduated from the University of Toronto with an “Honors in Science” and obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in the United States. Her thesis, ‘Effects Of Exercise In Falls Prevention In Community-Dwelling Older Adults’ took almost 2 years to complete. She finished her manual therapy designations from trained professionals of St. Augustine University in Florida. Finally, got her Dry Needling certification from the prestigious organization Kinetacore, a leading post-graduate program in North America. Aside from manual therapy and dry needling, she is well versed in hydrotherapy, taping and corrective exercise. She is a true believer in active therapy, thus her treatment goals always include an emphasis on physical activity with aim of improving client’s functional abilities.

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