The Synergy of Chiropractic and Physiotherapy: Unlocking the Benefits of Collaborative Care; Modern approaches to physiotherapy and chiropractic care show a greater emphasis on functional movement to not only rehabilitate your body following an injury, but also create lasting benefits that reduce your risk of developing an injury in the future. With both disciplines adopting this mindset towards care, the line between these services are becoming more blurred. This is great for the industry, but can make it confusing to understand who you should go see.
Nowadays, more and more chiropractors are implementing rehab exercises into their treatment protocols, and many physiotherapists are getting additional certifications in joint mobilizations and manipulations. One of the benefits of individual healthcare professionals offering multiple treatment techniques is the congruence of care. Receiving treatment from multiple practitioners when they are not working together may create conflicting care plans that can confuse the patient and potentially throw the treatment off course.
This is why as a chiropractor I trained in as many different treatment techniques as possible to be able to offer everything that my client may need from personal training solutions, exercise rehabilitation, functional sports medicine (similar to naturopathic medicine / nutritional interventions) and electro-acupuncture techniques. That being said, having worked closely with a variety of different practitioners has shown me that as long as the practitioners are working together and have the same goals in mind, there are multiple ways collaborating with both physiotherapists and chiropractors can improve the quality of care:
Multiple Eyes through a Different Lenses
While the line between professions is getting smaller, the way we are trained to initially view things is very different. For chiropractors, we are taught to view the spine and joint function first, while many physiotherapists will focus on muscle function first. (At iON, we often focus on the Nervous System which directly affects both muscle and joint). Having multiple practitioners whose eyes are trained to see things differently even though they think the same way can help to better determine which treatment approach will be the best approach for the client.
Different Skill Sets
While many physiotherapists are now being trained to perform joint mobilizations, they may not have the same level of skill when it comes to applying this type of treatment as someone who went to school specifically for it. In other instances, they might actually be better! Or they might be better at it for that specific client who requires a more delicate or firm touch. Every practitioner is going to have a different approach when applying the same techniques. Being trained in those techniques and having overlap with other practitioners allows those practitioners to recognize who might be best suited to provide the care that the individual client may need.
Building on the point above, if I as a chiropractor can focus on what I am good at with respect to manual therapy and electro-acupuncture techniques, I can defer the responsibility of exercise rehabilitation to my physiotherapy team who has the time to focus on assessing functional movement and designing a program that best suits their case. Being able to trust my team to spend the time necessary to work with a client and their needs allows me to focus on my work without feeling rushed or distracted by what else my client may need. This helps not only me, but also the person I am treating as they can feel confident they are getting the best of every aspect of their care without feeling rushed. (And as an added bonus, most people can utilize their benefits more efficiently).
Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are traditionally thought of as very different practitioners, and many still exist who work separately from each other. When they do work together, however, you start to see that they start to pick up techniques and treatment strategies that blurs the line between them. Even if you can only see one, working with a physiotherapist or a chiropractor that works with the other are often better practitioners because they have had the opportunity to learn and see different approaches to care. No matter who you see for your Health + Performance, I always recommend someone with a functional focused mindset and who is open to working with others to ensure your care works together for you! The Synergy of Chiropractic and Physiotherapy: Unlocking the Benefits of Collaborative Care