Should I see a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist?

Many people seeking help for their pain are confused.  “Should I see a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist?” These are very common questions that you might be asking yourself too. The following is a guide to help you with this dilemma, so that you are less likely to waste your precious time and money seeing the wrong practitioner.

  1. Chiropractors don’t just treat back pain and Physiotherapists don’t just treat extremity pain.

Chiropractic care can help with any joint or muscle problem you might have. When in school, Chiropractors learn to treat ankles, wrists, shoulders and every other joint in your body. Some go on to receive further training in soft tissue treatments that can help with conditions such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, shoulder impingement and plantar fasciitis, to name a few. Also by adjusting the spine many of these problems can be helped because your spine is like the foundation of your house. If it is out of shape then it can cause problems all over the place.

Physiotherapists are able to treat any area of the body as well.  They can help with back pain, neck pain, and all extremity related conditions such as tennis elbow.  Their training is similar to that of a Chiropractor, however their approach to treating a patient is different.  Where a Chiropractor is more likely to adjust your spine or perform soft tissue therapy, a Physiotherapist uses therapeutic modalities and exercise to treat the area of pain.

  1. Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are able to diagnose.

If you are looking for an answer to why you have pain, then seeking the help of a physiotherapist or Chiropractor will be of benefit.  Both professionals will perform a physical exam in order to determine why you are experiencing pain and then recommend a course of action to help with the problem.  Their approaches can be slightly different because Chiropractors tend to focus on the spine, but both Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are trained in mostly the same diagnostic procedures.

  1. If you are having acute pain see a Physiotherapist, if you are in Chronic pain see a Chiropractor.

There are of course exceptions to this rule, but acute (short term) pain from a recent ankle sprain or sports injury, for example, can respond well to Physiotherapy.   If you are suffering with chronic pain (more than 6 months) Chiropractic care would likely be best, as chronic pain usually has its root cause coming from the spine.

  1. All professions are regulated and have certain standards of practice.

All of the above professionals we are discussing in this blog post are regulated and must meet a certain standard in order to maintain their license to practice. This includes keeping and storing proper patient records, continually participating in courses and seminars related to their field and performing only certain treatments that they have been trained in. This is all done to protect the patients and make sure that they are receiving a certain standard of care when they chose to see one of these professionals. If you are thinking of seeking help for your pain, be sure to seek a regulated health professional.

  1. At the end of the day it comes down to the individual and their qualifications / approach.

The most important thing to remember is that even within a profession you will meet many different practitioners with many different treatment styles or approaches. This is why it is best to chose a regulated health professional whose approach will best suit your needs and goals. It is also best to chose someone with qualifications and techniques that get good results. Before choosing who you see, be sure to check out online reviews and videos that demonstrate their technique or approach. Also, choose an office that has multiple services under one roof and that uses a team based approach. This will allow for an easy referral to another health professional should you need one.


I hope you found this guide helpful.  If you are still unsure, you can always book a free consultation with our doctor who will help you determine the right approach to helping you.