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Difference Between

The Difference between chiropractic and physiotherapy in the Treatment of back and neck pain

Before we can begin to describe the difference between chiropractors and physiotherapists it is prudent to attempt to explain the differences between chiropractors and I assure you that is the more difficult task. Traditionally the chiropractor treated spinal joint misalignments or ‘subluxations’ which they believed can interfere with the nervous system and ultimately result in many different conditions of diminished health. Based on this assertion, all health problems could be prevented or treated using adjustments of the spinal joints. More recently chiropractic education in the UK and here at Murdock University in Perth takes on a more ‘medical’ belief in the way that chiropractic works. Although not totally dismissing the traditional view point, a more biomechanical and evidence based course is taught, concentrating more on the healthy function of joints, muscles, and nerves reducing painful musculoskeletal conditions. Different chiropractors vary in their approach. While some adhere strictly to the use of spinal adjustments with 5 minute treatment times. Other chiropractors like myself use a broad range of treatment methods including, spinal manipulation, acupuncture, other soft tissue and rehabilitation techniques requiring longer treatment times.

Chiropractors treat a number of different musculoskeletal conditions including headaches, back and neck pain, sports injuries, sciatica, leg, shoulder and jaw pain.

It has been said that chiropractors only use passive care and physiotherapists encourage patients to take a more active role in their care and therefore prevent dependence. I’m sure that there are chiropractors who do work like this but at Perth cbd chiropractic clinic (formally central city chiropractors) both physiotherapists and chiropractors understand the importance of patient involvement in there care to prevent reoccurrence with education on prevention being as important as hands on care provided by the therapist. If we can give the patient the confidence and knowledge to manage their own back pain effectively, it is far better for them than becoming dependant on passive treatment, whether delivered by a physiotherapist, a chiropractor or anyone else.

Saying that, as a chiropractor I do encourage 2mthly maintenance check ups or treatment, but I do not believe that this encourages my patients to become dependant on me. My view on maintenance is that the patient normally finds it difficult to totally eliminate, the musculoskeletal stresses that have caused the painful condition in the first place. For example it would be difficult to stop driving the car, or stop sitting at the desk for 8 hrs a day, and although I certainly give advice to reduce the stresses caused by these everyday activities they can rarely be removed altogether. With this in mind regular chiropractic treatment can diagnosis and treat spinal fixations before they become a painful problem to the patient. Of course maintenance treatments are fully the patient’s decision and some prefer to only come in when they are in pain. It’s a bit like going to the dentist for 6mthly check ups before you have a toothache. You clean your teeth everyday but are still at risk of tooth decay and therefore have dental check ups as a way of reducing the risk. Maintenance treatment is about is about looking after your spinal health, and ultimately you only get one spine just like adult teeth. Unfortunately it is a lot harder to replace a spine.

There is a long time animosity between the physiotherapy and chiropractic professions, with both claiming to be the more superior health care treatment, but there has been much research to suggest that both physiotherapy and chiropractic as primary treatment for back pain reduced symptoms Instead of claiming that one profession is superior, more skilful and able to treat pain than the other, At CBD Wellness Centre, we believe chiropractors and physiotherapists compliment each other and work together towards one common goal. That is to improve the health of all their patients. If a patient’s symptoms are not improving as we hope inter- refer to ensure the patient gets a second opinion which ensures CBD Wellness Clinic gives maximum standards of care to all our patients. Both chiropractors and physiotherapists also work closely with the central city medical centre and its GP’s, to ensure the patients have a overall holistic approach to there health.

What is most important when deciding whether to go to a physiotherapist or a chiropractor to treat your back pain is who you go to. There are good chiropractors and there are bad chiropractors just as there are good and bad physiotherapists. So try to get information on your local clinic or testimonials from friends or relatives. If you require to discuss anything about a clinic any good therapist would always be willing to make time to talk with you before any decisions are made.


At Perth cbd chiropractic clinic (formally central city chiropractors) both chiropractors and physiotherapists will always be willing to discuss any concerns, so please do not hesitate to call the clinic on 08 94868653 for further information.