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Chiropractic versus Physiotherapy

(02) 9922 6116

A comparison of chiropractic and physiotherapy

I am always on the lookout for new techniques that may help my patients. In fact, most of you know that my own style of treatment has developed from a wealth of observation of chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and even massage therapists and yoga instructors.

Recently, with a twinge of back pain from training and playing tennis five days a week (silly me!), I decided to use this as an opportunity to see how a physiotherapist would treat me. I booked into a really expensive centre that comes with high accolades in the treatment of back pain. With a firm understanding on the likely approach a chiropractor would take to the complaint, I was interested to see how this approach would compare with that of a direct competitor.

My experience was extremely positive. I was very impressed with the physiotherapist’s diagnosis and felt very confident she both understood and had the skill to improve my complaint. Interestingly, her approach to the consultation in terms of the history taken, examination process and treating style, was very similar to that of my own. This was very reassuring, as it reflects a breaking down in the barrier between chiropractors and physiotherapists. I believe many people feel the two disciplines are arch rivals in a battle for patient market share.

Of course, treatment will vary greatly from one practitioner to the next. There are some chiropractors who solely use manipulation as their treatment modality. By the same token, there are some physiotherapists who prefer the use of heat lamps, ultrasound, interferential machines over manual techniques. I have noticed in my observations, however, that more and more practitioners are recognising that patients need and deserve more than a simple manipulation or 15 minutes of acupuncture. Personally, I prefer the healing touch of a hands-on practitioner and as a result, I use my hands as much as possible in treating my patients.

The consultation with the physiotherapist incorporated mostly manual mobilisation techniques and exercise prescription. Mobilisation techniques are generally focussed at joints of the body. Physiotherapists often tend to mobilise joints as they are not usually trained in joint manipulation. However, in recent years many physiotherapists are being taught manipulation. Chiropractors typically manipulate joints but they also choose to mobilise them, particularly in older, fragile or more acute patients.

Whilst I didn’t learn any new techniques this time, I thought it was a valuable experience to share with my patients.

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