Treating Back Pain: Physio or Chiro? Which one to Choose?
You’re on a Chiropractors website so naturally we will curve the answer towards chiropractic services, right? Wrong.
This is a completely unbiased view with the same advice we would expect a patient to receive regardless of whom the question is directed towards. We welcome physiotherapists to share their opinions in the comments section below and we will commit to updating this article if there happens to be any top-level factors that we have overlooked.
On that note this is deemed to be a top-level comparison, with some specific examples shared. So let’s start with dissemination, a look at the ambiguous title of this article. The subject is back pain, not any other type of pain, and not any other area of the body, although it is important to have an understanding of how back pain may affect other areas or vice versa. The treatment options span far beyond just chiros’ and physios’, however these are two of the most common therapies. The head-to-head nature of the question assumes many things.
- The person suffering back pain has not received any professional diagnosis.
- The cause of the problem is largely unknown
- The symptoms have been fairly consistent
When it comes to assessing, restoring and maintaining the health of the spine and the nervous system Chiropractors are the experts. This is because they receive a minimum of five years full time specialised education on the health of the spine and nervous system and its related conditions. They will give you a complete picture of what is going on with your spine and help restore function so proper healing can take place. As all systems in the body are connected, the aim should be to make sure proper movement and function is restored and maintained to all tissues, not just individual tissues or systems. Doing this not only helps with back pain but also helps prevent long-term damage to the back. Chiropractors can also help with pain management, give specific exercises, and assess how your lifestyle may be impacting your overall health
Conversely, physiotherapists are also able to help with back pain as they specialize in musculoskeletal injuries. They will help with function, have pain management strategies, and can spend time working on individual tissues that have been injured. While they have not spent as much time studying and doing ongoing training regarding the spine, they still have great pain management strategies.
Pain can come form a variety of sources:
Muscular Pain (For example a tear or strain): A tight, sharp pulling surrounding the problem area and affecting the range of motion. The strength of the muscle group also appears to be lower.
Skeletal Pain (Bone and / or joints): Skeletal pain often occurs during sudden movements and especially when those movements require a higher the usual level of force. The pain itself is commonly dull with increased pressure in the problem area. In contrast skeletal pain can be very sharp and / or throbbing if it has been caused by a bruise or fracture.
Nerve Pain: If nerves are damaged patients generally associate a burning and / or stinging sensation in the problem area, and in many cases the pain is only covers a small surface area. Sensitivity to the area can be reduced as well and muscle weakness may be present.
It should be noted that no matter what the source of pain (i.e. where the pain is coming from), proper health and function needs to be restored and maintained to the appropriate areas in order for proper healing, health and function to be restored.
So who should you see for back pain?
Unfortunately the answer is not clear cut, as it has much to do with the person’s individual goals in seeing the therapist as well as the approach of each therapist. Each Physiotherapist and Chiropractor will have their own unique way of approaching the situation. Ultimately the decision rests with the individual as people clearly get benefit from seeing either.
The most important thing amongst health professionals is their willingness to work with and communicate with other health professionals for the greater good of the person they are seeing. No individual or health professional should convince you not to see a reputable Chiropractor or Physiotherapist as such behavior is considered unprofessional, unscientific and may delay you from getting the care you need. In either case, as we stated in our article on the changing paradigms of Chiropractic both disciplines will be able to assess the issue and offer a referral when warranted.
The objective nature of this subject means that there is no right or wrong answer. Therefore the goal of this article is to offer neutral guidance to assist in making a decision. Remember, getting advice and doing something is much better, than doing nothing when you are suffering back pain. Seeing either a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist will be a step in the right direction if you are suffering back pain. Generally the treatment from a Chiropractor will be different from a Physiotherapist, as Chiropractors with their expertise in spinal and neural health tend to take a more natural, holistic, and global approach. It’s for this reason that many top Olympic and sports teams travel with both Chiropractors and Physiotherapists who work together for the greater good of the athlete.
For a more detailed analysis of what is going on with the whole health of the spine, it is important that a proper analysis is done. Here at Aberfoyle Park Chiropractic we run the latest evidence based spinal health assessments to help you know exactly what is going on. Our treatments are able to go well beyond just the management of pain or pain relief (if that is what you choose) and we measure and track your progress. We are also happy to work with and communicate with other health professionals you may be seeing, including physiotherapists and/or General practitioners for the benefit of you.
One thing is for sure; the Chiropractors and Physiotherapists of Adelaide (and also Australia) have developed more efficient and more effective methods for diagnosing and treating back pain. Both disciplines have respectively moved forward by leaps and bounds in decades gone by, especially as the human race continues to evolve, challenging ourselves to more strenuous physical tasks and on the other side of the coin, we sit in the same position for more hours than ever before especially now with more technology in our lives.
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Alternatively, if you would rather see a physiotherapist please start here.