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Find a local chiropractor

    Chiro vs physio: What’s the difference?

    Your guide to which health professional is right for you

    Hannah | Oneflare

    When you’re experiencing back pain or pain in other areas of the body, the need for relief is pressing. Knowing the difference between physio and chiro practices will help you  to decide which profession to see in times of need. Which one can take better care of your health for the time being? Or which is more appropriate for long-term care?

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    There are several overlaps between these two professions as both can treat many of the same conditions. The goal is the same; to help you with resolving your problem and improving your wellbeing. Although each will treat the same condition they will treat the issue in different ways. Physiotherapists and chiropractors have their fundamental differences and but have each completed relevant accredited courses.

    Source: Silky Oak Chiropractic

    What does a physiotherapist do?

    • Diagnosis, management and prevention of movement disorders
    • Pain focused. Known for treating sports injuries, body pain and posture issues
    • Take into account the patient’s individual needs
    • Commonly used techniques: soft tissue, taping, ice, needling and ultrasound
    • Soft tissue, joint and muscular problems. Focus on improving physical functions
    • Biomechanical analysis of specific movements and Ergonomic assessments

    What does a chiropractor do?

    • Diagnosis, correction and prevention of disorders of your skeletal, muscular and nervous system
    • Known for treating spinal and neck conditions. Unlike physiotherapists, chiropractors put a strong emphasis on the proper functioning relationship between the nervous system, the spine and other joints.
    • Many chiropractors are focused on biomechanics and optimising the relationship between joints, muscle, tendons and ligaments
    • Can treat multiple problems that may be influencing one another.
    • More lifestyle focused and may suggest modifications to daily activities.

    Peter Luan, an experienced practitioner at Fort healthcare, provided the following case study to show the overlaps between a physio and a chiro. The clinic takes multiple approaches when it comes to treating specific conditions, and takes time to educate patients about the treatment.

    “The patient is an elite basketball player. He is experiencing lower back pain and pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes. He is concerned about his lower back pain might stop him from playing professional basketball.”

    “He was previously diagnosed with sciatica. After the assessment, we still saw symptoms of sciatica as the patient had not fully recovered from his surgery.”

    “We put him on a strengthening regime that focuses on activating his core and glute muscle. After a month, he was able to play a game at full intensity.”

    Source: Lombard Chiropractic

    From the case study above, we see that physios and chiros both take the biomechanical analysis of your body conditions before providing you with a customised exercise prescription. In this scenario, physio care proves to be helpful for post-surgery recovery and seems more favourable. However, there is no single universal answer.

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    What are the other things to consider?

    • Location: some clinic locations are more convenient than others. They benefit those who just want to go to a clinic nearby for a quick after work treatment.
    • Specialisation: Some practitioners have a track record of dealing with specific injuries, such as sports injuries and post-surgery care. Check the practitioners’ profile and reviews before you book the appointment.
    • Booking: Online booking/Phone booking. A well-organised schedule ensures that no time of yours goes to waste and the practitioners treat your pain promptly.
    • Health insurance cover: The first-time consultation fee is $70 – $100. Some clinics are well-connected with the private health insurances and can reimburse you the money on the spot.
    • Qualifications: Most practitioners should have a Bachelor Degree or above. When they are a member of Australian physiotherapy association, it’s a plus. It means they’re probably actively engaged in the community and family with the latest practices.
    • Staff available: Check to see the type of staff that are available. Clinics with multiple professions under the same roof have more experiences dealing with different conditions. A chiro rather than a physio might better treat a condition. Sometimes multiple therapies are recommended to manage the condition for a sustainable recovery.
    • Programs: Check out the programs and the practitioners’ background. Some programs are more targeted towards your problem than the others.
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