Chiropractic and Physiotherapy

 Many people ask the question, what is the difference between a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist?

Both Chiropractors and Physiotherapists specialise in the musculoskeletal system, with the goal of restoring health, function and overall well-being. Both use manual therapy techniques in their treatment protocols and their fields of interest overlap. Does this make them the same? No, while their fields of interest do overlap, they are both different kinds of practitioners.

The table below describes the differences and similarities between the two:    





A health care profession concerned with the diagnosis,   treatment, and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and   the effects of these disorders on general health.   

Physiotherapists assess, plan and implement rehabilitative programs that improve or restore human motor functions, maximize movement ability, relieve pain syndromes, and treat or prevent physical challenges associated with injuries, diseases and other impairments.   

What they do?   

Management includes manual techniques with particular competency in joint adjustment/manipulation, and rehabilitation exercises, patient education and lifestyle modification, and the use of physical therapy modalities and orthotics and other support. The profession makes no use of prescription drugs or surgery, and patients requiring these interventions are referred for medical care.   

Management includes a broad range of physical therapies   and techniques such as movement, ultrasound, heating, laser and other techniques. They may develop and implement programmes for screening and prevention of common physical ailments and disorders.   


  In South Africa we are required to complete a 5-6 year Masters   of Technology (MTech), which includes completing a mandatory research project   and dissertation. Clinical work is done in the 5th and 6th   years of study, which requires a certain number of hours in a clinic and   complete a specified training programme. All students that graduate as   Chiropractors from the University are required to complete an internship   program that has been implemented as a mandatory registration requirement by   the Allied Health Professions Council.   

  In South Africa physiotherapists are required to complete a 4 year Bachelor of Science (BSc), which includes a research protocol as part of the requirement for completion of the degree with honours status. On completion of their studies students are required to take the Hippocratic oath and register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. All students that graduate as Physiotherapists throughout South Africa are required to complete on year of community service after graduation.   


Neither Chiropractors nor Physiotherapists should be considered to be superior. Both are skilled professionals. In all professions there are good practitioners and bad practitioners, the same applies with Chiropractors and Physiotherapists. It is important to find a practitioner that works well with you and keeps your goals and priorities in mind when compiling your treatment plan. Physiotherapists and Chiropractors can work very well together, and one should always have both in your spectrum of health care practitioners, as you do with a GP, dermatologist, gynaecologist, ect.


* The above definitions and explanations have been taken from: