What’s the Difference between a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist?

Most people would struggle to articulate the difference between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist. Some people may even use the terms physiotherapist and chiropractor interchangeably, erroneously assuming they mean the same thing.
It’s a perfectly reasonable mistake to make. After all, both chiropractors and physiotherapists deal with musculoskeletal pain, both require a university degree and a certificate from an accredited institution. Although a chiropractor and a physiotherapist – on a surface level at least – may seem similar, they are distinctive and unique medical practices.
When deciding which treatment is appropriate for your back pain, it’s extremely important to understand the fundamental differences between a chiropractoror and a physiotherapist.

What is a Physiotherapist

A physiotherapist is concerned with developing, restoring or maintaining movement in a person. Using a variety of evidence-based research and practices, a physiotherapist is concerned with maximising the physical potential of a person.
A physiotherapist usually takes a holistic approach to treatment or maintenance. They evaluate the individual needs of the patient and create an exercise/rehabilitation plan based on the physical requirements and lifestyle of the patient. A physiotherapist is concerned with a variety of areas of movement including movement promotion, injury and damage prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. An individual will seek out a physiotherapist for everything from injury prevention, sporting performance improvement to pain management.

What is a Chiropractor

While often confused with a physiotherapist by the general public, most people are aware that a Chiropractor is concerned with the back. What makes chiropractors distinctive from other physical therapy practitioners is we specialise completely on a person’s back. To elevate pain, chiropractors focus on muscle and joint manipulation. The overall goal of chiropractor treatments is to address pain. This is achieved by joint and spine manipulation. Adjustments can help correct a body’s alignment, improve overall body function and of course relieve pain in the back.


The above is the briefest outline of the differences between physiotherapists and chiropractors. There are, of course, many more differences between these disciplines.
We hope this blog gives you a better idea of what physical practitioner to seek out for your pain or movement issue. For more information, see our chiropractic treatment page or contact our Cork clinic.


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