Whats the difference between Chiropractors and Physiotherapists?

Nov 27, 2023

Bridging the Gap: The Future of Sports Chiropractic and Rehabilitation

The dynamic, ever changing and evolving relationship between chiropractic care and mainstream
medicine has historically been plagued by skepticism and rivalry while also seeing increased
integration. A closer examination reveals an evolution of collaboration that holds great promise,
especially in treating musculoskeletal conditions including a wide range of sports injuries, neck
pain, back pain such as facet joint pain, slipped discs, arthritis, and the often misunderstood,
“sciatica”. In this blog, we hope to explore the similarities between the practices of sports
chiropractors and physiotherapists, highlighting the essential role of manual therapy techniques in
patient care and recovery.

Back cracking, spinal alignment and what does chiropractors do? Plus more…….

Sports Chiropractic: Advancing Athlete Health at Pro Health Physio NE

Sports chiropractors possess specialised expertise in diagnosing, treating, and preventing
musculoskeletal injuries prevalent among athletes and the general population. Chiropractors
training in sports medicine, biomechanics, and performance enhancement on top of their rigorous
baseline chiropractic education uniquely equips them to help bridge the gap between mainstream
chiropractic and their physiotherapist counterparts.

Both sports chiropractors and physical therapists excel in managing injuries, employing a range of
manual therapies and exercise-based interventions to expedite clients safe and effective recovery.
These practitioners implement various techniques to facilitate healing and restore optimal recovery
with education, reassurance, sleep hygiene, advice regards work, return to play and preventing
further flare ups of pain.

Addressing neck and back pain is another shared focus for both professions. Through manual
therapy techniques like spinal (back) adjustments, mobilization, and soft tissue therapies,
chiropractors facilitate the client to help ease pain, improve movement/stiffness and return them to
what matters most to them- home, sleep, work, exercise and playing with their kids & grandkids

The management of sciatica is a testament to the common ground between sports chiropractors
and physiotherapists. Both professionals employ targeted exercises, stretches, and hands-on
therapies to reduce nerve compression and inflammation, thus mitigating the impact of sciatic pain.
Both types of practitioners are well versed helping those in back pain with radiculopathy

(loss of motor/sensory function of the nerve) understanding the importance of a holistic, compassionate
approach to client’s care.

Physical Therapy: Versatility in Musculoskeletal Care

Physical therapists boast expertise in musculoskeletal health and play a pivotal role in
rehabilitating patients of all ages and activity levels.

With their in-depth knowledge of sports injury rehabilitation and close relationships with medical
practitioners, physical therapists design tailored treatment plans to aid athletes in regaining
strength, flexibility, and mobility. Incorporating manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercises,
and modalities, they help restore athletic robustness, adaptability and resilience.

Sometimes, pain may be persistent, frustrating and challenging to our clients. In some cases, we
may have to adopt strategies to help clients cope with pain, accept its presence, and learn to live
well with it to some extent. When and if this happens, we need to ensure we stay active, maintain
muscle mass, a certain level of strength/fitness, and tone down the protective guarding
mechanisms that our nervous system prematurely applies unknowingly that it is safe to move- We
can help guide those in chronic persistent pain to function better day to day, moving safely and
fearlessly through the challenges of back and neck pain.

Akin to sports chiropractors, physical therapists are proficient in addressing neck and back pain.
Through manual therapies, exercise programs, and whatever other myriad of tools that fall within
their scope, they focus on returning a client to their sport and other daily activities in as well
rounded of a way as possible. We see here yet another way the two professions are similar
instead of divided.

Shared Techniques: The Power of Manual Therapy

The crux of the synergy between sports chiropractic and physical therapy lies in their shared
historical emphasis on manual therapy techniques. Arguably less used by the physiotherapy world
in recent times, techniques such as spinal adjustments, joint mobilisation, manipulation, hands on
treatment, soft tissue therapies (including massage and myofascial release), and trigger point
therapy form the bedrock of both professions' approach to musculoskeletal conditions. While the
growing trend of chiropractic programs embracing physiotherapy as part of their curriculum is yet
another step toward bridging the gap.


The harmony emerging between sports chiropractic and physical therapy underscores the potential
for a unified, integrative approach to musculoskeletal health. It is for this reason, at Pro Health

Physio NE, we have physiotherapists who specialize in movement, compassionate led care, physio
led personal training, pain science and education………in addition to chiropractors. Together, they
both play pivotal roles in managing sports injuries, neck pain, back pain, and sciatica whilst
leveraging evidence-based manual therapy techniques and targeted exercise interventions. As
these professions continue to evolve, a collaborative effort stands to amplify client care, enhancing
outcomes and accelerating recovery. Ultimately, the partnership between sports chiropractors and
physical therapists embodies a step towards an enriched and holistic approach to musculoskeletal

To experience this integrated approach for yourself, please come see what we have to offer here
at Pro Health Physio! Dr. Ronald Pierce is our resident in house Chiropractor who works closely
alongside our experienced team of physiotherapist to get you back to what matters most, for you!