There are several parallels between physical therapy (or physiotherapy) and chiropractic care. Both are used to treat and control physical pain and stiffness and should always be carried out by licensed professionals who have completed years of study.
Similarities Between Chiro & Physio
Physical therapists and chiropractors have similar aims in mind for their patients, but they approach them differently. The following are some of the similarities they share:
- Both focus on employing non-invasive and nonsurgical ways to manage pain and discomfort.
- To treat a specific ailment, both may use manual or hands-on therapy.
- Both may be used to manage or treat ailments.
- Beyond what they can do in a session, both may focus on wellness goals for their patients.
- Both assess your symptoms by gathering information about your medical history, evaluating you, and requesting further testing as needed.
- Physical therapists and chiropractors are both qualified health care providers who have completed extensive education and training.
Differences Between Chiro & Physio
The fundamental distinction between the two is that a chiropractor employs manipulation of the spine and extremities, and has two extra years of education (in Canada, as they achieve a doctorate) whereas physiotherapists use mobilization techniques and rehabilitation exercises more frequently, and have two fewer years of education and training (for a Master’s level education in Canada).
What Does a Chiropractor Do?
Chiropractors usually address pain and other bodily alignment issues by manipulating the joints (adjustments), either in the spine or in the extremities. Manipulation is a quick manual approach that pushes the treated joints to the limit of their range of motion. Soft tissue methods, stretching, active release therapy, Graston, strengthening, and rehab techniques are also available to chiropractors.
The Patient’s Medical History and Symptoms
The patient will be requested to complete questionnaires that provide background information about their symptoms and condition in order to prepare for the chiropractic consultation. Typical inquiries include the following:
- When and how did the discomfort begin?
- Where do you feel the pain?
- Is the pain intense, dull, searing/burning, or throbbing in nature? Is it sporadic, or does it last a long time?
- Was there an injury that caused the pain?
- What activities/circumstances improve or aggravate it?
Patients are frequently asked about their family medical history, any pre-existing medical issues or prior injuries, and previous and current treatments received from other healthcare providers.
The Chiropractic Evaluation
General assessment such as posture, gait, and alignment of the spine are all part of a full chiropractic examination. Specific orthopaedic and neurological examinations are also used to evaluate the following:
- The affected body part’s range of motion(s)
- Tone of muscle
- Muscle strength/endurance
- The integrity of the brain and nervous system
- Joint or core stability
Further chiropractic examinations, such as functional movement screens or sports specific assessments may be required to further assess the injury and affected area.
Diagnostic investigations may be useful in uncovering pathologies and identifying structural anomalies to more correctly diagnose a condition based on the results of the patient’s history and chiropractic exam. While x-rays are the most common diagnostic study performed during a first chiropractic examination, they are not always necessary. An x-ray is typically utilized in a chiropractic context to help:
- Recognize a recent traumatic event.
- Spinal changes such as degeneration, spondylolisthesis should be screened.
- Examine a spine condition that has the potential to worsen, such as scoliosis.
Only an x-ray scan should be performed if the chiropractor has reason to believe it will yield information that will help guide the patient’s treatment plan.
Findings from the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic testing usually assist the chiropractor in making a diagnosis. After the diagnosis is made, the chiropractor can see if the ailment will react to chiropractic treatment. The chiropractor will discuss the following with the patient at the conclusion of the initial visit:
- The condition(s) that has been identified
- Chiropractic treatment that is tailored to the individual (or other options)
- Chiropractic treatment plan duration and expectations
Body Adjustments/Spinal Manipulation
A chiropractic adjustment is a treatment in which trained experts (chiropractors) apply a calculated force to a spinal joint with their hands or a small device. The purpose of this therapy, also known as spinal manipulation, is to improve your body’s physical function and spinal motion. Spinal manipulation differs from spinal mobilization, which does not entail a thrust and is done within a joint’s natural range of motion with the patient in control.
When conducted by a competent and licensed practitioner, spinal manipulation is relatively safe. Temporary muscle soreness, stiffness, or an increase in discomfort are the most common adverse effects of spinal manipulation.
A full-body chiropractic adjustment concentrates on the assessing and treating the entire body, resulting in improved mobility and less pain. A range of chiropractic procedures are used to treat stiff and painful joints in this treatment.
Further Treatment Plans
A treatment prescription of 1 to 3 chiropractic visits per week for 4 to 6 weeks will be suggested for most types of lower back pain, followed by a re-examination by the chiropractor. Multiple studies have been done on spinal manipulation for lower back pain, data suggests that receiving chiropractic treatments each week for a few weeks can help with back pain:
According to one study, receiving 3 to 4 chiropractic treatments per week for four weeks resulted in significant back pain reduction.
Another study looked at persons who went to a chiropractor for six weeks and received either zero, six, twelve, or eighteen sessions with hands-on adjustments. While all of the groups who received chiropractic treatment benefited, those who received 12 appointments (2 per week) over the course of six weeks had slightly superior effects.
A chiropractor may propose a maintenance program, which includes continuing with exercises and receiving periodic spinal manipulations, depending on the condition.
What Does a Physiotherapist Do?
Physiotherapists are trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent movement disorders. Physiotherapy is used to help people rehabilitate and increase their capacity to move and function. They look at how your muscular, skeletal, and neurological systems interact to discover what might be causing your problem. Then they look at what else in your life, such as sports, job, or recreation, might be contributing.
Hands-on approaches for joint mobilization or massage for the release of tight muscle or connective tissue can be used by physiotherapists. They also will typically prescribe exercises to do on your own.
The therapist will inquire about your medical history and assess your current physical condition. An examination of your movement patterns, strength, range of motion, reflexes, feeling, and, of course, pain patterns is included. Following the physical examination, the physiotherapist will look through any documents, photos, or reports you’ve submitted. X-rays, radiological reports, laboratory tests, surgical notes, and other physician records are examples of this.
Your physiotherapist will create a personalized treatment plan for you based on this information and evaluation to help you accomplish your goals.
Exercises & Stretches
Although each patient’s physiotherapy program is unique and adapted to their specific physical challenges, there are three types of physiotherapy exercises that are frequently incorporated in rehab programs:
- Range of Motion
Dynamic balance refers to the control you have over your body when in motion, whereas static balance refers to the control you have over your body while it’s in motion. Good balance necessitates deep core stability as well as muscular control..
When your dynamic balance is compromised, you have poor muscle and joint control, which can result in instability-related disorders, including back pain, hip impingement, bursitis, sprained ankles, or knee pain.
Balance and proprioception, or knowledge of joint position, are both improved by balance exercises. They aid in the adjustment and maintenance of your centre of gravity as it shifts.
Examples of balance exercises include:
- Single-Leg Balance: Standing on one leg with arms outstretched and try to keep your balance.
- Single-Leg Cushion Balance: Stand on one leg on a pillow with arms extended and maintain your balance.
- Slowly walk in a straight line, carefully setting one foot down and moving the second foot in front, touching the front heel to the back toe.
Range of Motion
The movement of a joint from its fully flexed to fully extended position is referred to as the range of motion… Range of motion exercises are divided into three categories: passive, active-assistive, and active.
- Passive range of motion exercises: The physiotherapist moves your limb along the joint range while you remain motionless; this is commonly done if you are unable to move a limb yourself.
- Active-assistive: Although the patient is able to move the limb, the physiotherapist assists the patient in completing the motion along the joint range or until discomfort occurs.
- Active exercises are those in which the patient performs the movement independently of the physiotherapist.
Here are a few examples of range of motion exercises:
- Neck: Forward and backward head tilts: Gently bow your head and aim to put your chin to your chest. Return your head to the starting position now. Return your head to the starting position after tilting it back as far as possible to look at the ceiling.
- Movement of the shoulder blades: As though you were shrugging, raise your shoulders toward your ears. Relax by lowering them to the initial position. Your shoulders should be pulled back. Then relax them once again. Roll your shoulders forward in a smooth circle; then roll them backwards in a smooth circle.
Strengthening exercises are performed to strengthen muscles to prevent damage in the future..
Exercises to develop muscle strength lay somewhere between endurance training with high repetitions and little resistance and muscle-building exercises with fewer repetitions and a high weight load.
Stretching can be broken down into static and dynamic.
The safest and easiest way of stretching is static stretching. Static stretches involves stationary stretching, or holding a stretch position. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend static stretching during rehab.
Dynamic stretching involves active muscle movements that move a joint through the full range of motion. Like static stretching this may be prescribed by your healthcare practitioner during rehab.
Physiotherapist Education Requirements
To work in this sector, you must have a masters degree in physical therapy and a licence.
Chiropractor Education Requirements
To work as a chiropractor, you’ll need a doctorate in Chiropractic and a licence.