Should I See a Physio or Chiro for Back Pain

When you’re struggling with back pain, the pressing question, “Should I See a Physio or Chiro for Back Pain?” becomes more than just a query; it’s a quest for relief and a path to better health. Back pain, a common ailment affecting individuals of all ages, not only hinders daily activities but also impacts the overall quality of life. This dilemma, faced by many, underscores the importance of understanding the distinct roles and treatments offered by physiotherapists and chiropractors. 

Deciding whether to see a physiotherapist or a chiropractor for back pain depends on your specific needs and comfort with the healthcare provider, as both are adept at managing lower back issues. When choosing the right professional for back pain treatment, you need to consider several factors, including the nature of your condition, treatment preferences and the goal of therapy.

Should I See a Physio or Chiro for Back Pain – A Quick Answer

With the many back pain treatment options available, you might wonder if a physiotherapist or a chiropractor is the right choice for you. Interestingly, both professionals bring unique skills to the table, specialising in different, yet complementary, approaches to managing back pain. 

Physiotherapists excel in creating personalised exercise programs and utilising manual therapy techniques to rehabilitate and prevent further injury. They emphasise muscle re-education, pain management and patient education, aiming for long-term health and mobility. On the other side, chiropractors focus on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, primarily through spinal adjustments and manipulations. Their approach not only addresses immediate pain relief but also ensures the optimal functioning of the body’s musculoskeletal structure. The decision on which professional to choose ultimately rests on understanding these nuances and aligning them with your personal health goals and preferences.

What Health Conditions Does Physio Treat?

Physiotherapists play a vital role in the healthcare ecosystem, aiming to enhance the quality of life for their patients through various physical therapies. Their expertise spans across a multitude of conditions, each addressed with a customised approach to cater to the unique requirements of every individual.

Musculoskeletal Issues

Musculoskeletal conditions, which include many problems that affect the muscles, bones and joints, are at the forefront of what physiotherapists treat. These issues include, but are not limited to, back pain, arthritis and sports injuries. 

Back pain, a prevalent issue among adults, benefits from targeted exercises and manual therapies that physiotherapists specialise in, aiming to alleviate discomfort and improve functionality. 

Meanwhile, arthritis is characterised by joint pain and stiffness, and it sees significant improvements with physiotherapy through tailored exercise routines that focus on strengthening and flexibility. 

Sports injuries, on the other hand, require a rehabilitative approach that not only addresses the immediate injury but also implements preventative strategies to avoid future occurrences.


Neurological Conditions

Neurological conditions, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, significantly impact an individual’s movement and function. This makes physiotherapy a crucial element of the treatment plan. 

For stroke survivors, physiotherapy focuses on relearning skills and movements lost to the condition, employing exercises that enhance muscle strength, coordination and balance. 

Multiple sclerosis patients benefit from physiotherapy through tailored programs designed to maintain mobility and manage symptoms. 

Parkinson’s disease, known for its progressive impact on movement, sees improvements in posture, balance and daily functioning through targeted physiotherapy interventions.


Cardiothoracic Conditions

Physiotherapy also extends its care to individuals suffering from cardiothoracic conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These conditions, which affect breathing and lung function, are managed through physiotherapeutic techniques aimed at improving lung capacity and easing breathing difficulties. Exercises tailored to enhance the respiratory muscles, along with breathing techniques and endurance training, are part of the comprehensive care plan for patients with these conditions.

What Treatments Does Physio Use?

Physiotherapy stands out for its tailored and comprehensive treatment approaches while focusing on the individual needs of each patient to facilitate recovery and prevent further injuries. The following are key treatments used by physiotherapists:\

  • Exercise Programs: At the heart of physiotherapy, exercise programs are meticulously designed to enhance mobility, build strength and improve flexibility. These programs are crucial for:
    • Speeding up the recovery process from injuries.
    • Strengthening muscles to prevent future injuries.
    • Improving overall physical functionality and performance.
  • Manual Therapy Techniques: This category includes hands-on treatments, such as:
    • Joint Manipulation and Mobilisation: Techniques aimed at restoring joint movement and reducing pain.
    • Soft Tissue Mobilisation: Used to improve tissue elasticity, reduce scar tissue and relax muscle tension.
  • Muscle Re-education: This involves strategies to improve muscle coordination and control, essential for preventing recurrences and enhancing movement efficiency.
  • Pain Management Techniques: Various methods are utilised to manage pain, including:
    • Heat and Cold Therapy: To reduce inflammation, alleviate pain and speed up the healing process.
    • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): A therapy using low-voltage electric currents to relieve pain.
    • Acupuncture: Incorporating traditional Chinese medicine techniques to alleviate pain and promote healing.
  • Advice and Education: Physiotherapists also play a pivotal role in educating patients on:
    • Proper posture and ergonomic setups to prevent strain and injury.
    • Techniques and lifestyle changes to avoid future injuries.
    • Customised home exercise programs to continue improvement outside the clinic.

What Health Conditions Does Chiro Treat?

Chiropractors focus primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with a particular emphasis on issues related to the spine. Their expertise in manual adjustment techniques is pivotal in addressing a range of conditions, offering pain relief and improved body function.

Back and Neck Pain

Among the most common conditions treated by chiropractors are back and neck pain. These ailments, affecting a significant portion of the population, often result from poor posture, injury or chronic conditions. 

Chiropractic care addresses these issues through spinal adjustments to realign the spine and relieve pressure on the nervous system. This, in turn, reduces pain and improves mobility, thereby providing a non-invasive solution to chronic discomfort.


Headaches, including tension headaches and migraines, can also be effectively managed through chiropractic care. Often, these headaches are linked to muscular tension or misalignment in the neck or spine, which chiropractors address through targeted adjustments. By relieving the tension and correcting misalignment, patients often experience a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of their headaches.

Whiplash and Auto Accident Injuries

Chiropractic care is particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from whiplash and other auto accident injuries. Whiplash, a common injury resulting from the sudden movement of the head and neck, can lead to prolonged neck pain and stiffness. Chiropractors use specific techniques to restore mobility, alleviate pain and promote the healing of the soft tissues.

What Treatments Does Chiro Use?

Chiropractic care focuses on restoring the body’s natural healing capabilities through spinal health and alignment. The treatments offered by chiropractors include:

  • Spinal Manipulation and Adjustment: These are the cornerstone of chiropractic care, aimed at:
    • Restoring joint mobility.
    • Reducing subluxations (misalignment).
    • Alleviating pain and discomfort in the spine and other areas.
  • Soft Tissue Therapy: This involves a variety of techniques to:
    • Relax tight muscles.
    • Relieve muscle spasms.
    • Release tension in the fascia, improving overall muscular and joint function.
  • Exercises and Stretches: Chiropractors prescribe specific exercises and stretches to:
    • Enhance mobility.
    • Maintain or increase range of motion.
    • Strengthen muscles surrounding the spine and other joints.
  • Joint Bracing/Taping: Techniques, such as Kinesio Taping are used to:
    • Support sprained joints or muscles as they heal.
    • Stabilise areas of weakness during movement and activity.
  • Nutritional Consultation and Lifestyle Advice: Recognising the importance of overall wellness, chiropractors often provide:
    • Guidance on nutrition to support healing and promote general health.
    • Lifestyle recommendations to improve posture, sleep and daily activities.

Physio vs Chiro: Which One Is Better for Treating Back Pain?

When it comes to back pain, the choice between physiotherapy and chiropractic care isn’t about which is better in a general sense, but which is more suited to your specific situation. Both physiotherapy and chiropractic care offer valuable paths to recovery and well-being, underscored by their respective focuses on holistic treatment and spinal health. Recognising the strengths of each profession enables you to make an informed choice, ensuring that the path you choose is best suited to your unique back pain needs. 

Physiotherapy offers a broad-based approach, focusing on exercise, manual therapy and preventative education. It’s particularly beneficial for those recovering from injuries or surgeries, or managing chronic conditions.

Chiropractic care, on the other hand, might be preferable for those seeking immediate pain relief from spinal issues or who value manual adjustments for spinal alignment and function. Chiropractors focus on enhancing the body’s natural healing abilities through spinal health, which can offer rapid relief for certain types of back pain.

Ultimately, the decision should hinge on a comprehensive assessment of your condition, personal health goals and preferences. Consulting with healthcare professionals can provide clarity and ensure that the chosen path aligns with your specific needs and leads to the most effective treatment outcome. 

Remember, the goal is not just to alleviate pain but to embark on a journey towards long-term health and mobility. Whether you lean towards the comprehensive approach of physiotherapy or the targeted adjustments of chiropractic care, the most important step is taking action towards your recovery and well-being.

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FlexiFit Physiotherapy
FlexiFit Physiotherapy
108 Google reviews
Gabrielle Delamont
Gabrielle Delamont
For the past few months I have had the pleasure of receiving physiotherapy treatment from Tessa at FlexiFit Physiotherapy in Collaroy for an ongoing neck & back issue, and I must say it has been an exceptional experience. From the moment I walked into the clinic, I was greeted with a warm and friendly atmosphere, which immediately put me at ease. Tessa demonstrated a high level of professionalism and expertise throughout my sessions. She took the time to thoroughly assess my condition, listening attentively to my concerns and addressing them with the utmost care. Her extensive knowledge and understanding of the human body were evident in her ability to accurately diagnose and develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to my specific needs. What truly impressed me was Tessa’'s ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner. She patiently guided me through each step of the treatment process, ensuring that I understood the purpose and benefits of each exercise or technique. This not only empowered me to actively participate in my own recovery but also instilled a sense of trust and confidence in her abilities. I am delighted to say that thanks to Tessa's expertise and guidance, I have experienced significant improvement in my condition. Her holistic approach, combining manual therapy, exercise prescription, and education, has not only alleviated my pain but also equipped me with the tools to prevent future injuries. I highly recommend FlexiFit Physio to anyone in need of physiotherapy services. Their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care for their patients make them an outstanding practitioner in their field. I am very grateful for the positive impact they have had on my health and well-being.
Jayel March
Jayel March
I can’t recommend the team at Flexifit highly enough! I’ve had chronic shoulder problems for 2 years and seen other specialists which hadn’t solved the problem. Tessa at Flexifit sourced the problem and after the first session, my shoulders were sitting aligned - the first time that’s happened in 2 years. I felt validated with the pain I was in and feel so much more positive about my treatment pathway with Flexifit.
Patricio Servat
Patricio Servat
Georgia’s brilliant and excels in all the areas I want from a physio - diagnosing/figuring out the prob, massage and physical work, and then exercises to do at home to help long term. Worth the 40 minute drive!
vanessa matulin
vanessa matulin
I've been seeing Georgia and Tessa from FlexiFit for the last year, and they have both been outstanding. They are caring, compassionate and highly skilled. They have assisted me with managing multiple injuries and I've referred several members of my family who are equally impressed with their services! Thank you, Georgia and Tessa, you guys are amazing!
Mitchell Veitch
Mitchell Veitch
Great experience helping with my ACL recovery, would recommend
I can commend Georgia and Tessa for their excellent hands-on approach. So many physios nowadays are often hands-off, so being treated at FF has been a refreshing change 🙌🏻
Kirsten Alexander
Kirsten Alexander
Georgia and Tessa are both friendly and professional and have helped fix my injuries and get me moving again. They are very hands on and I highly recommend them
Danielle de Gail
Danielle de Gail
The girls at FlexiFit are simply amazing. So kind, friendly, understanding and knowledgeable. They know exactly what my body needs. My neck pain has improved dramatically since going here. Love my visits!
Meil's Curic
Meil's Curic
The team at FlexiFit Physio are exceptional practitioners who genuinely care about the outcomes for their clients. When you book with Georgia or Tessa you know you have their full attention for the session, they are not juggling multiple clients and their hands on therapeutic approach is seamless and extremely effective to reduce pain and enable progression from injury. I can not recommend them more highly. Thanks guys!
Julia Fujikawa
Julia Fujikawa
My experience at FlexiFit Physiotherapy has been truly exceptional, and I would wholeheartedly recommend both Georgia and Tessa to anyone in search of effective support for managing persistent pain conditions. Both Georgia and Tessa have been integral to my journey in addressing both acute knee pain and long-standing issues with back pain, tension headaches, and migraines. In the past, my interactions with healthcare professionals haven't always yielded lasting results. However, the level of attentiveness and authentic care they've shown for my overall well-being and the underlying causes of my pain are clearly reflected in their hands-on approaches, follow- up care and advice and healing strategies. I feel so lucky to have found this practice.