Hey guys, welcome to Part 2 of our blog. In Part 1, I described that the most common question we’re asked at Active Physiotherapy Newtown is the difference between chiro and physio. I also showed all of the claims that chiropractors make have been debunked and have no proof whatsoever in the literature.

But what about physiotherapy – is there any proof that it works? What do we know about pain? What is does to the body? And what to do to help it go away and to move better through our daily lives?

I’m glad you asked!

A bit of historical context first.

Physiotherapy originated from the need to provide rehabilitation to soldiers returning from World War 1. At the time, a cohort of nurses took it upon themselves to rehabilitate these War Veterans using exercise and movement. By the end of World War 2, physiotherapy was a stand alone profession, working closely with doctors, surgeons and the hospital system, to rehabilitate returning injured soldiers.

Physiotherapists use a combination of manual therapy, soft tissue techniques and most importantly exercise and education with the aim to strengthen patients and improving their functional capacity.

So we’ve come to our first difference that distinguishes physiotherapy from chiropractic  – and that is this: Physiotherapists are trained to assess and rehabilitate individual muscles and whole movements, whilst chiropractors are not.

That’s right….chiro’s get ZERO training at college to assess or manage muscles and their function.

“But muscles are important, right?” I hear you ask?

Absolutely they are….we have many important core muscles in our body, ranging from behind our throat, deep in our shoulder blades, in our tummy and spine and in our pelvic floor.

These muscles help to hold us up….and guess what? In the presence of pain, these important muscles get a bit sleepy (or neurologically down-regulated for the science buffs!)

What does that mean? It means that, when you’re in pain, your core muscles don’t work as efficiently as they would when you’re in a pain-free state.

And furthermore, us physio’s believe that, you really need to get these muscles firing again, in order to achieve normal function across the different joints of your body. For more information, see Professor Paul Hodges and Professor Lorimer Moseley’s work.

So….if you have pain you can rest assured that some of your muscles will be tight and sore ( you will be able to feel these…) and some of your muscles will be sleepy and weak ( these you will NOT be able to feel).

In order to resolve your problems, you will most likely need to have these sleepy muscles “woken up” in order for them to control your movement and return you to full function again.

And it’s physiotherapists who have the expertise to find these little sleepy muscles, wake them up and get them to work with the rest of your body.

When it comes to research, physiotherapists have dozens of solid research articles that prove that your muscles become weak in the presence of pain, whether this pain comes from a stroke, arthritis, back pain or after surgery. We also have a mountain of proof that exercise is the best medicine for pain. Physiotherapists are proud of our record of research, which can give our patients confidence that they are getting world’s best practice when they see a physiotherapist.

I’m sorry I can’t say the same thing about the other guys.

Until next time,

Dr. John Panagopoulos