It is common for many people to get confused when seeking out a solution to their problems whether they should look for a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or other type of manual medical provider. Below we will discuss briefly about physiotherapy and how different techniques may overlap between professions.
In short, physiotherapy is a profession that employs a ‘whole person’ approach to well-being and health. At its core is the patient’s own involvement in their care through awareness, empowerment, education, and participation in their treatment.
Physiotherapists help individuals affected by illness, disability, and injury through exercise, manual therapy, education, lifestyle advice, and movement. They also help people of all ages maintain their health by helping them manage pain and prevent disease. Physiotherapists also facilitate recovery so patients can remain independent for as long as possible.
Almost anyone can benefit from physiotherapy at any time in their lives. For instance, you can turn to physiotherapy if you need help managing sudden injury, back pain, or other chronic health issues. Basically, it is a system of tools and management to help people improve their health and function.
Physiotherapists make use of their skills and knowledge to improve a diverse range of conditions associated with different systems of the body. For instance:
- Musculoskeletal (sports injuries, back pain, whiplash disorder, arthritis)
- Respiratory (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, asthma)
- Neurological (multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease)
- Cardiovascular (rehabilitation after a heart attack, chronic heart disease)
Additionally, some of them are closely involved with research, service management, and education.
There are many various treatment approaches that physiotherapists may employ depending on their training and area(s) of specialisation. Some of the more common methods include:
- Stretching and exercise techniques
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
- Joint manipulation or mobilisation
- Physiotherapy Taping
- Massage and soft tissue techniques
- Use of modalities like electrotherapy, cold laser, ultrasound and others
- Lifestyle advice
Just like in other professions, physiotherapists may specialise or focus on different aspects of care or different types of conditions. For example, some may be more focused on rehabilitation of cardiac or pulmonary patients, while others may focus on sports injury and recovery or performance.
Additionally, the length of time required for study to earn a degree in physiotherapy varies depending on the certification process in a practitioner’s country of study. The degree of knowledge and skill among physiotherapists can range greatly, just as it can among professionals in many different professions across different nations.
Unfortunately, many people both within the professions and in the public think there exists an antagonistic relationship between doctors of chiropractic and physiotherapists. This is often based upon outdated notions of how practitioners of each field of specialty operate and misconceptions about each other.
At Elite Spine Centres, we firmly believe the future of healthcare is moving towards integration; not only between chiropractic and physiotherapy, but also between a broader range of conservative treatments and mainstream medical interventions. The human body is extraordinarily complex, and what works for one particular patient may not work exactly the same way for another patient. Therefore, providers of every speciality should look to broaden their horizons to learn theory and practice beyond a narrow scope which may have been traditionally defined in the past, and provide options which will best help their patients.
The reality is that the level of training and techniques a provider are proficient in can vary greatly depending on where they are trained, what kind of licensing is required and how they choose to practice. Traditional lines between professions like chiropractic, physiotherapy, osteopathy and others are becoming more blurred and it is important that patients find a provider who fits their needs and preferences. Read our article on chiropractic vs physiotherapy for a more detailed comparison.
The United States has one of the longest training programs for chiropractors in the world and is one of the only places to grant a doctorate degree in the field upon completion. Areas of study to receive a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree in the USA include many courses that a physiotherapist would take such as anatomy, physiology, manual therapy courses, musculoskeletal diagnosis, etc. A DC degree also requires study in many areas beyond what a traditional physiotherapist (4 year degree) would need to study, as well as completion of 4 national board exams.
Chiropractors in the USA that choose to take additional elective coursework in physiotherapy, gain extra clinic practicum hours, and take a separate 5th national board exam are then able to add a certification in physiotherapy along with their doctorate in chiropractic. Our doctors of chiropractic at Elite Spine Centers have achieved these additional certifications and are well-equipped to employ physiotherapeutic methods as well as chiropractic techniques with our patients. This often enables us to achieve better results in a quicker amount of time by combining techniques as needed with our patients.
Schedule a consultation with us at our unique centre today to find out how the right combination of physiotherapy and/or chiropractic care might be just what you need to feel better and learn how to stay that way!
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant