This is a question that I get asked a lot. Actually, the first clinic I ever worked in was owned by a Chiropractor and had Physio, Osteo and Chiro all working together. We used to have these brilliant meetings where we would teach each other only the most effective treatments. We had a theory that I still abide by “if it works, I don’t care who invented it!”
There are great Chiros and Physios out there. And unfortunately there are not-so-great ones too.
The key differences between the modalities stem from their origins. Physio has been developed from a mixture of hospital based rehabilitation, massage and manual therapy. Whereas, Chiropractic stems from a theory that if the nervous supply to an area is unimpeded then the body is better able to heal itself.
It is due to these differing origins, that Physios tend to do more massage, joint mobilisation and prescribe exercises whereas chiropractors tend to do more manipulation (cracking). But lots of Physios use manipulation and lots of Chiropractors use massage and exercises. I can totally understand why the differences can elude many people!
Both, Physio and Chiro have come a long way since our humble origins. Both modalities now have access to the same body of evidence and years of research that influences our practice.
If you are seeing a Physio or Chiro for a sore back, stiff shoulder or sprained ankle, you should essentially get the same advice, treatment and outcome, if they use evidence based practice.