Massage Therapist vs Chiropractor in Canada

By Last Updated: October 24th, 20237.3 min readViews: 2791

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About the Author: Daryl Stubbs
Daryl Stubbs
Daryl Stubbs is a multi-disciplinary health professional, combining his roles as an award-winning athletic therapist, registered massage therapist, and certified holistic nutritionist to offer a comprehensive approach to wellness. Graduating in 2013, Daryl has been recognized as the best massage therapy clinic in Victoria for 2022 and 2023 and has received national athletic therapy awards. He is known for his holistic approach to health, focusing on treating the body as a whole. Clients appreciate his focus on the science of probiotics, supplements, gut health, and the human body, ensuring a well-informed and evidence-based approach to their wellness journey.


In the world of alternative and complementary healthcare, massage therapists and chiropractors are often mentioned together. But what are the differences between these two professions, and how do you know which one is right for you? In this article, we will explore the differences between massage therapists and chiropractors in Canada, including their education and training, scope of practice, techniques, benefits, costs, and how to choose the right practitioner for your needs.

Key Takeaway: Massage therapists and chiropractors are both healthcare professionals who help patients manage pain and discomfort, but they have different approaches and areas of focus.

The main difference between them is that massage therapy focuses on a patient’s muscles and soft tissues, while chiropractic care primarily focuses on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, particularly the spine.

Massage therapists use various techniques to help relieve muscle pain, tension, and stiffness, while chiropractors use spinal manipulation and back adjustment to restore joint mobility and reduce nerve interference.

Additionally, chiropractors are doctors who complete a doctorate program before obtaining a position as a chiropractor, while massage therapists typically complete a shorter training program focused on massage techniques.

Find a massage therapist in Victoria, if you decide massage therapy is a good fit for you.

Education and Training

Massage Therapist

Massage therapists in Canada typically complete a 2-3 year diploma program from an accredited massage therapy institution. The curriculum includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, and massage therapy techniques, along with supervised clinical practice. Upon completion, graduates must pass a standardized exam and register with a provincial regulatory body to become licensed.


Chiropractors, on the other hand, must complete a 4-year Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree program from an accredited chiropractic college. The curriculum covers a wide range of subjects, including anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and chiropractic techniques. Graduates must also pass national and provincial board exams before obtaining licensure.

Scope of Practice

Massage Therapist

Massage therapists focus primarily on the soft tissues of the body, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They use various hands-on techniques to manipulate these tissues, aiming to alleviate pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Massage therapists may also incorporate stretching and joint mobilizations into their treatments.


Chiropractors, in contrast, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Their primary focus is on the spine and its alignment. Chiropractors use manual techniques called adjustments to correct misalignments, improve joint mobility, and restore proper nerve function. They may also recommend exercises, lifestyle changes, and other complementary therapies.

Techniques and Treatments

Massage Therapist

Massage therapists employ a variety of techniques, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and trigger point therapy, depending on the needs of the client. Each technique has a specific purpose, ranging from relaxation and stress relief to injury rehabilitation and improved athletic performance.


Chiropractors primarily use spinal adjustments to treat their patients, but they may also utilize other therapies such as soft tissue manipulation, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and rehabilitative exercises. The goal of these treatments is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further injury.

Benefits and Effectiveness

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy can offer a wide range of benefits, including reduced muscle tension, increased flexibility, improved circulation, and reduced stress. Many people find massage therapy helpful for managing chronic pain, recovering from injuries, and promoting overall well-being. Some studies have shown that massage therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.


Chiropractic care has been proven effective in treating various conditions, particularly those related to the spine, such as back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Research has shown that chiropractic adjustments can reduce pain, increase range of motion, and improve overall function. Chiropractic care may also be beneficial in the management of conditions like sciatica, whiplash, and certain types of arthritis.

Costs and Insurance Coverage

In Canada, the costs of massage therapy and chiropractic care can vary widely depending on factors such as the practitioner’s experience, location, and the length and complexity of the treatment. Generally, massage therapy sessions range from $70 to $120 per hour, while chiropractic appointments can cost between $50 and $150 per visit.

Many extended health insurance plans in Canada cover both massage therapy and chiropractic care, but the extent of coverage will depend on the specific plan. It’s essential to review your insurance policy to determine what services are covered and any limits or requirements that may apply.

Choosing the Right Practitioner

Assessing Your Needs

Before choosing between a massage therapist and a chiropractor, it’s essential to understand your specific needs and goals. Are you seeking relaxation and stress relief, or do you have a specific injury or condition that requires targeted treatment? Understanding your goals will help you make an informed decision.

Researching Practitioners

Take the time to research and compare practitioners in your area. Look for practitioners with positive reviews, relevant experience, and credentials from accredited institutions. You may also want to ask for recommendations from friends, family, or your primary healthcare provider.

Trusting Your Instincts

Ultimately, you should choose a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable and trust their expertise. Schedule an initial consultation to discuss your concerns and get a sense of their treatment approach. If you don’t feel at ease, don’t hesitate to seek out other options.

Difference between chiropractor and massage therapist

Chiropractors and massage therapists both aim to alleviate pain, but they take different approaches. Chiropractors perform direct manipulations of the spine and joints, focusing on the alignment of the spine and ensuring that a body’s nervous system is performing at its optimum.

They have more extensive educational backgrounds in diagnosing issues and require much more training than massage therapists.

On the other hand, massage therapists focus on manipulating soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use various massages with oils and lotions to help relieve muscle pain, tension, and stiffness.

Massage therapy is best for muscular pain or tension while chiropractic care is better for joint, spinal or musculoskeletal pain.

If you are unsure of the cause of your pain, it is best to see a chiropractor before seeing a massage therapist.

Chiropractors can diagnose the condition and determine if it is safe to see a massage therapist

Is it better to get a massage or see a chiropractor?

Massage therapy and chiropractic care are two different therapeutic methods that target different aspects of the body to achieve results. Massage therapy is the art of easing tense muscles to alleviate muscle pain, tension, and free blood flow in constricted muscles.

A massage therapist manipulates soft tissue and muscles using various massages with oils and lotions to help relieve muscle pain, tension, and stiffness. On the other hand, a chiropractor specializes in carefully adjusting the spine to ensure that a body’s nervous system is performing at its optimum.

Chiropractors have a more extensive educational background in diagnosing issues. They also have years of clinical learning and experience under their belts.

Both massage therapy and chiropractic care can be used to treat temporary, situational or chronic pain. However, if you’re unsure of the cause of your pain, it’s best to see a chiropractor before seeing a massage therapist.

Chiropractors will help diagnose the condition and determine if it is safe to see a massage therapist. A good rule of thumb is that massage therapy could be just what you need if your concern is muscular pain or tension. If you have been experiencing joint, spinal, or musculoskeletal pain, consulting a chiropractor may be in order.

Should I go to the chiropractor or massage my stiff neck?

If you are experiencing neck pain, the choice between visiting a chiropractor or getting a massage depends on the type of pain you are experiencing. If you are feeling sore and would like to relax and relieve tension, a massage may be your best option. Massage therapy can provide immediate relief from neck pain and help regain some of your lost range of motion.

Massage therapists can quickly treat muscle issues that may resolve themselves.

However, if you have discomfort or pain, a chiropractor is likely a better option.

Chiropractors specialize in the care of the spine and joints. They use diagnostic techniques to identify issues contributing to neck pain and focus on realigning displaced spinal vertebrae to restore optimal functioning of the nervous system.

Chiropractic adjustments alleviate the pain of pinched nerves, strained lower back muscles, and eliminate back, neck, and headache pain


Both massage therapists and chiropractors can provide valuable care for a wide range of health concerns. The choice between the two will depend on your specific needs, goals, and preferences.

By understanding the differences in education, scope of practice, techniques, benefits, and costs, you can make an informed decision and choose the right practitioner for your unique situation.


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