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Chiro or physio – who should I see?

(02) 9922 6116

Should I see a chiro or physio? You can’t blame the layperson for not knowing which professional to see. The boundaries between chiros and physios, not to mention osteos, myotherapists and massage therapists, etcetera, are becoming increasingly blurred. Unfortunately there is a large misconception amongst the general population about the role of various health practitioners and how they fit into the health industry.

There are so many different types of practitioners now that people are confused as to what their expertise really are. It’s a bit like trying to buy milk – there’s almost too many options! Imagine for a moment, if all these professionals were instead suddenly called, ‘musculoskeletal therapists’. You’d have no frame of reference – and so how would you then choose the person to help with your lower back, neck or shoulder pain? How would you go about finding out who the best practitioner for your condition would be?

I think many people make the choice to see a chiro or physio based on their own pre-conceptions of the two professions. For example, “Oh it’s a problem with my spine therefore I’ll see a chiro”, or “It’s a hamstring strain, I need to see a physio”. Both practitioners however, are equally equipped to manage either injury. Another crude example might be, “I need to be massaged, not cracked!” There are many more reasons I’ve heard people use to justify their choices in seeking out different practitioners, these are just a few. The point is, I don’t think people research enough, who it is that they’ve made the decision to see. I ask every new patient I see, how they heard about me. Fortunately for me, these days it’s mostly through word of mouth, yet I’m still surprised at the number of people who have come to see me, simply because I was the closest ‘chiro’ or practitioner to them. It perplexes me that a person would take such a gamble in seeing somebody based entirely upon location, rather than skillset and experience.

If all practitioners were all of a sudden forced to call themselves, ‘musculoskeletal practitioners, it would be interesting to see how the [injured] public would behave in choosing a health professional. People would be forced to research more about therapists, to gain an understanding of their skillset, and whether they have enough tools and experience to manage their complaint.

Part of my work as a chiropractor involves presenting to various companies in the North Sydney area. I speak about about the importance of good ergonomic practice in todays office environment, and provide useful advice on how to address posture-related injuries. At the end of these presentations, I provide free injury assessments for the staff which is always greatly appreciated.

chiro or physio

These talks provide a great opportunity to educate people, not just about The Physicaltherapy Centre, but more importantly, the benefits of chiropractic care, what chiropractors are capable of treating, the methods used for treatment, and the overall similarities and differences between other related health professions.

In my opinion, people should choose their health practitioner based simply on their experience treating certain conditions and their methods of doing so, rather than outdated ideas that chiros can only help with spine related issues, whilst physios deal with muscle injuries and just prescribe exercises.

Considering only a certain university qualification (chiro or physio degree), is a poor indicator of the wealth of knowledge an experienced health practitioner has accrued throughout a career. For me, studying chiropractic was simply about learning how to become skilful in joint manipulation – a highly effective treatment modality.

Since completing my five year Masters of Chiropractic, I have added many more strings to my bow that are independent of the chiropractic, physiotherapy, or any other professions. My goal is to continue to learn more about health and the range of therapies available, not so that I will become a better chiropractor, but rather, so that I will become a better health practitioner. It is for these reasons that I view myself less so as a chiropractor, and more so as a health practitioner.

My advice to those seeking out a professional to help them with a musculoskeletal complaint, is to research more closely, the individual you are considering seeing. Look at their qualification, but pay more attention to their extramural studies.

My hope in spreading this message, is that people suffering musculoskeletal complaints will begin to make more informed decisions about health care, and the people they choose to see about it, so they can receive the best treatment for their condition.

If you think employees at your place of work could benefit from having a health expert present to your team, please get in touch with us by emailing or calling 02 9922 6116.

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