Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist: Difference and Comparison

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.

Key Takeaways

  1. Chiropractors focus on diagnosing and treating neuromusculoskeletal disorders, using spinal manipulation to alleviate pain.
  2. Physical therapists provide rehabilitation services to improve mobility and function after injury, surgery, or illness.
  3. Both professions emphasize a conservative approach to treatment and promote overall wellness, but their techniques and areas of expertise differ.

Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist

The 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 joint pain. While Physical therapists take care of the body as a whole.

Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist
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A Chiropractor is a professional with a legal license who works for pain relief in body parts through the manipulation of ligaments and the 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 who maintains bodily movements and improves 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

Parameters of ComparisonChiropractorPhysical 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 the 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 osteopathy 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 about 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.

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What is a 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 and helps eliminate illnesses that affect the body’s functional abilities.

Various devices with electricity, heat, radiation, orthoses, prostheses, etc., are used in this process, which assists 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, from musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and 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.

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Main Differences Between Chiropractors and Physical Therapists

  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 workouts that help improve body movements.
  5. A specialized environment is needed only in chiropractic, while physiotherapy is possible in any environment.
Difference Between Chiropractor and Physical Therapist
References
  1. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2845058
  2. https://www.jospt.org/doi/abs/10.2519/jospt.2011.3637

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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