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Chiro or Physio? Learn the Difference!

Ever wondered what the difference between a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist is, as well as which to see for your spinal injury?

Learn the difference below, in particular how a Chiropractor can help improve your spinal health!

Firstly, what does a chiro do?

Chiropractors diagnose and treat your neuromusculoskeletal system — your nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. A chiropractor helps you to reduce pain levels, increase range of motion, and improve your posture. They do this primarily through treatments such as soft tissue release, mobilisation and adjustment/manipulation of the spine and all other body joints.

How does a chiro differ to a physio when treating the spine?

When you get Injuries or feel neck/back pain, it can be very confusing to know if a CHIRO or a PHYSIO would be the best practitioner to see.

Actually, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are both well-trained in the orthopedic, neurological and functional assessment of the spine. Both of them manage the pain through manual or hands-on therapy. Chiropractic training focuses specifically on spinal structure and body symmetry; while Physiotherapy training focuses on exercise and correct movement.

Still confusing? Check this table out to see the differences between them:






Manages pain



Manual therapy



Good at

Making changes in the surrounding soft tissues to affect the joint.

Making changes in the joints to affect surrounding soft tissues.

Focuses on

Exercise and correct movement.

Spine alignment and body symmetry.

Treatment type

Exercise, mobilisation, soft tissue release.

Mobilisation, adjustment, manipulation, soft tissue release.

Treating area

Focus is on the area of pain.

Several areas that are related to the pain.

Key primary goals

Improving the movement and function of your muscles to enhance flexibility, mobility and strength.

Restoring normal position of the spine and all other joints to release the tension on surrounding muscles, nerves and blood vessels.


Reduced pain, moving correctly, improved strength.

Reduced pain, improved range of motion, promotes healing.

What treatment methods do chiropractors use for the spine?

Do chiropractors only know how to “crack” people?!

Of course not, they know many techniques, more than just cracking people’s spines.

Soft tissue release

Applying sustained pressure to break down adhesions between the muscle tissues, from superficial to deep layers of your muscles, with a combination of other techniques in order to free up tight muscles.


Involves moving the joints within their normal range of motion. This gentle technique helps increase the joint space, allows muscles to further relax, and gets rid of joint stiffness.


A chiropractic adjustment (also known as manipulation) of the spine is the application of a small controlled force in a specific direction into a joint. This technique can help restore motion to the joint and decompress the nerve, improve the blood circulation, helping the spine gradually regain more normal motion and function.

What is that “crack” sound?

You may or may not hear a cracking, popping or clicking noise during the adjustment. This sound is when a tiny pocket of air, which accumulates when your joint builds up stress and pressure, is squeezed out from your joint by a small and quick force that the chiropractor applies. This can considerably decrease the pressure within the joints, break the scar tissues around the joint, and incite a sense of pleasure or relief.

What exercises for spinal health do Chiro's recommend

Exercise is one of the most influential ways we can enhance our health and decrease pain levels. Proper stretching and strengthening exercises can improve spinal flexibility, increase muscle strength, and reduce spinal pain. Therefore, knowing which muscles need to be stretched or strengthened to decrease your pain is essential to a workout plan or a pain management program.

What spinal conditions do they commonly see?

  • Back sprain and strain injuries

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Disc herniation

  • Facet joint sprain

  • Arthritis

  • Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome

  • Pregnancy back pain

  • Scoliosis/Kyphosis

  • Spondylolisthesis

Want to give Chiropractic services a go?

We have chiropractors within North Sydney, Chatswood, and Sydney CBD clinics. Improve your spinal health today and click the button below!


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