Physical Therapy vs. Chiropractic

About the Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is the Owner of Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance. Each and Every Week He Helps His Clients & Patients Live Their Life to the Fullest, Get Active, and Get Pain-Free.
Categories: Physical Therapy

Having back pain can be a big block to enjoying life to its fullest potential. You must seek help to alleviate your chronic and acute pain related to any part of your body. But then you could get confused as to which treatment option should you choose for your musculoskeletal problems.

Both physiotherapy and chiropractic practices help in dealing with mobility and pain related-issues. They treat similar conditions but offer different perspectives and methods to provide a desirable outcome for the patients. 

Let us help you with that. 

Understanding the differences and the particular benefits of these two treatment options will let you decide which one will suit you best. This article will guide you through what exactly physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments aim at and the difference in the way treatment is provided by them. 

Chiropractic Treatments

The word chiropractic means to do by hand and the practice stays true to its meaning. If you are ever going to have a chiropractic treatment, you can very well expect the practitioner to perform knuckle cracking physical adjustments. 

The treatment works on the premise that joint adjustments can influence the overall nervous system. 

It places focus on joint adjustments over medications and invasive procedures to get pain relief and an overall improvement in health. 

Thus, if you are apprehensive of taking in pain relief drugs or surgeries, chiropractic therapy can be helpful for you. 

However, here is the catch. A chiropractor would merely manipulate or adjust you. You might not need this ‘mere adjustment’, and even if you do, the effects won’t last long.  

Treatment and Benefits

Chiropractic treatment is noninvasive. Meaning there will not be any foreign substance introduced to your body. No medication and no prodding your insides. 

The therapist will assess your body and diagnose any misalignments that are the cause of pain and attempt to make it right through manipulations and adjustments. 

Chiropractic therapy benefits

  • It is noninvasive. There are no side effects of chiropractic treatment. It is safer than invasive procedures.
  • It offers some sort of instant relief to an extent. You get to relax your muscles and pressure from joints is alleviated immediately. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy or physiotherapy is a blanket term for several subfields of treatment procedures that rely on movements and exercises that facilitate faster recovery. The aim is to make life easier by allowing for rehabilitation after an injury and encourage independent healing. 

Treatment and Benefits

Physical therapy aims at improving the overall quality of life of a patient. Quite different from chiropractic treatments, physical therapy works by noticing any physical abnormality. It doesn’t only make adjustments, but also provides suggestive exercises and mobility treatments.

A physical therapist can also provide you with spinal manipulation if needed.

Patients usually consult a physiotherapist for rehabilitation and recovery after sports injuries and surgery. 

It is also helpful in coping with disabilities and loss of muscle function due to aging and diseases like stroke. 

Physical Therapy Benefits

  • Long term recovery and support. Physical therapy treatments help recover after an injury. 
  • Physical therapy can strengthen your muscles and educate yourself on the right way to doing any physically demanding job. It is very useful for sportspersons as injuries from repetitive motions and overuse can be dealt with efficiently via physical therapy. 
  • Occupational therapy is a sub-system of physical therapy which primarily focuses on making life easy for the disabled and weak. 


While the treatment approaches may differ, what distinguishes these two practices most is their particular benefits. 

  • Physical therapy provides full-body coverage

Physical therapy is an all-inclusive treatment that helps patients regain their lost abilities. It works by reducing the amount of pain you are suffering from due to injuries.

However, chiropractic therapy only focuses on the spine. Most chiropractors will only make the adjustments in the spine even when the patient doesn’t have a back injury. This is not the case with a physical therapist who performs the complete diagnosis and adopts a proper plan to help you heal.

  • Therapists are more skilled

When compared to chiropractors, physical therapists are more skilled. As a matter of fact, they can perform all the tasks that a chiropractor is capable of performing – including adjusting the spine and releasing tight muscles. 

Add to that, a physical therapist can also practice other treatments that a chiropractor cannot, including exercises that calm your core, therapeutic techniques, and more.

  • Chiropractors may cause additional injuries

You might not have seen this coming, but in various cases, chiropractors have caused more injuries than doing any good. This is especially true for chiropractors who focus more on muscle manipulation than on any other technique. Not all patients respond well to this technique and often end up getting hurt. 

This is not the case with physical therapy. A physical therapist would examine your injuries thoroughly, and will also get the ultrasound done, if needed, before treating you.


As you can see, both physical therapy and chiropractic doctors use some form of physical manipulation to get a desirable outcome, however, physical therapy provides lasting benefits. 

Get expert consultation with us. Meanwhile, remember to keep a straight neutral posture so you don't have to visit these therapists too often. 

“Physical Therapy, Fitness, & Performance Tips From Dr. Scott & the Back in Motion Team”