Difference Between Chiropractor and Physical Therapist

Life has always been full of ups and downs. Issues and problems come and go, but taking medical help becomes necessary for some of them. Quite recently, people have started to believe that human minds can face physical as well as mental disorders. While physical disorders are caused by any external injury, mental disorders are due to problems that get created internally. Issues in the thinking process, beliefs, feelings etc., are some of them. Therapy is a way of treating these issues.

Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist

The main difference between a Chiropractor and a Physical Therapist is that a Chiropractor focuses on introducing manipulations in the body parts for pain relief, whereas a Physical Therapist focuses on the painless treatment of body movements and functions. Chiropractors deal with joints pain. While Physical therapists take care of the body as a whole.

Chiropractor and Physical Therapist

A Chiropractor is a professional with a legal license who works for pain relief in body parts through manipulation of ligaments and spine. The method is believed to heal the body parts through the procedures a chiropractor follows. The chiropractic method does not deal with medications and surgeries for treatment.

On the other hand, a Physical Therapist is a professional that works for maintaining bodily movements and improve the functioning ability. Physical therapy involves the overall development of body postures, which results in a healthy lifestyle. A physical therapist evaluates and suggests a number of ways to stay healthy.

Comparison Table Between Chiropractor and Physical Therapist

Parameters of Comparison Chiropractor Physical Therapist
DefinitionOne who practices chiropractic therapy is a Chiropractor. One who practices physiotherapy is a Physical Therapist.
Objective The main objective is pain relief and spine alignment. Painless and healthy body movements are the main objectives.
Specialisation Neck pain and Back pain are the specialisations. Several specialisations are there.
Treatment MethodA Chiropractor performs manipulations in body parts. A Physical Therapist performs exercises and certain manipulations too.
Work Environment There is a need for well-equipped space. Any environment is suitable.

What is Chiropractor?

The chiropractic method of therapy is concerned with the detection and cure of physical disorders such as pain in the musculoskeletal system of the body. The certified professionals who practice chiropractic care are known as Chiropractors.

The primary focus of a chiropractor is to relieve pain through manual therapy. The therapy includes manipulation of body parts such as the spine, joints or soft tissues. This method of manipulation gives rise to inflammation in the areas where the pain is caused, and as a result, the pain stops. However, chiropractic care has not given out strong evidence of effectiveness over the years.

Chiropractic therapy is very popular and acknowledged in Australia, Canada and the United States. It is considered at par with physical therapy as well as osteopathic in these regions. Neck pain and back pain are considered the area of specialization in chiropractic. The therapy has two divisions: the straight and the mixers. These groups differ based on their beliefs on treatment methods.

Although chiropractic is practised all over, there is no proof of a complete level of safety in it. The manipulations can even cause vertebral artery dissection, which can further lead to a severe heart attack and death. But still, lots of people engage in it and take treatment through chiropractic care.

What is Physical Therapist?

Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy is a popular method of treatment that roots for an overall healthy body. Bodily movements are taken care of to make sure that their functions are efficient enough. The professionals who involve in physical therapy are called Physical Therapists or Physiotherapists.

Physical Therapists follow certain steps for treatment, which include physical evaluation of the body, diagnosis of diseases, prognosis, educating the patient, physical medication, rehabilitation, prevention and promotion of health. These steps ensure a healthy body by restoring lost health or by curing any physical disorders.

Physical therapy is quite painless that helps in getting rid of illnesses that affect the functional abilities of the body. In this process, various devices with electricity, heat, radiation, orthoses, prostheses, etc., are used, which assist the therapeutic procedures. The physical therapist prescribes specific exercises and rules to follow for the restoration of health.

A physical therapist can work for several specialisations starting from musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, orthopaedics and neurology to paediatrics. Neurology is by far one of the best flourishing fields of physiotherapy. The therapists can practise in various settings such as private clinics, hospitals, residences, research centres, educational environments etc.

Main Differences Between Chiropractor and Physical Therapist

  1. A Chiropractor practices chiropractic, while a Physical Therapist practices physiotherapy.
  2. The physical therapist focuses on body movements and a healthy body, while the Chiropractor focuses on pain relief of body parts.
  3. Physiotherapy has several specialisations, unlike chiropractic which has only two specialisations, i.e. neck pain and back pain.
  4. Chiropractic care deals with manipulations of body parts, while physiotherapy deals with exercises and specific kinds of workouts that help make body movements better.
  5. A specialized environment is needed only in chiropractic, while physiotherapy is possible in any environment.


Therapy is a proven method to get rid of issues related to the body as well as the mind. There are various fields of study in therapy that are categorised based on the type of issue or disorder. Chiropractic as well as Physical Therapy deal with the issues of the body.

However, Chiropractic care differs a lot from Physical therapy. Physical therapy is a certified treatment carried out by a Physical therapist, while Chiropractic is carried out by a Chiropractor. Chiropractors and Physical Therapists follow varying treatment procedures, focus on different objectives and work under different settings.

No doubt, physical therapy is more popular and safer as there is evidence of it. In contrast, chiropractic care is not fully safe as it can cause unavoidable damages to body parts due to the manipulations it involves. This puts a question mark on the safety part of chiropractic care.

Long-term damages to the body can be prevented if proper advice is taken from a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Although they use manual procedures for treatment, it turns out to be effective in most cases.


  1. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2845058
  2. https://www.jospt.org/doi/abs/10.2519/jospt.2011.3637
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