The Difference Between A Chiropractor And A Physical Therapist

Do I Need a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist?

Many professional treatments can help alleviate pain if you are dealing with a chronic back condition.

But, it can be challenging to decide which type of treatment to pursue. The most common approaches for chronic back, neck, or shoulder pain are chiropractic care and physiotherapy.

It’s important to know the differences and similarities between each type of treatment before making any appointments. In this guide, we’re going to cover what makes a chiropractor different from a physical therapist and how to choose the best option for you.

Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapist

Both chiropractic care and physiotherapy are complementary, non-invasive treatments. Neither requires surgery or the use of pharmaceuticals.

While they share these similarities, both approaches differ in terms of:

  • What techniques practitioners use
  • What conditions are treated
  • Who is eligible

Here’s some information about chiropractic care vs. physical therapy.

What Does A Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractic care is a type of therapy that targets the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and cartilage). The musculoskeletal system supports mobility and protects your organs.

If you deal with chronic pain as a result of an injury or condition, a chiropractor can alleviate your pain by manipulating your body using adjustment and realignment techniques. Chiropractors help you improve mobility.

In terms of a chiropractor vs. a physical therapist, neither are a replacement for standard medical treatments. Chiropractic care is a type of treatment that’s supposed to occur in conjunction with other types of medical treatment.

What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

Physiotherapy, also referred to as physical therapy, describes any treatment that helps the body regain strength and improve mobility. Chiropractic care is more narrow, whereas practitioners apply physiotherapy in many ways.

Some physiotherapists are qualified to perform the same treatments as chiropractors. These treatments include muscle release techniques and spinal manipulation.

When an injury or condition affects someone’s mobility, strength, or balance, a physical therapist is responsible for improving the patient’s health slowly over time. Physical therapists rely on approaches like joint manipulation and muscle stretching.

Chiropractic Treatment Approach

Chiropractors are known to use a non-invasive, hands-on approach when healing patients. They begin by assessing a patient’s body and locating any muscular or spinal misalignments that cause pressure buildup in the central nervous system.

Chiropractors can treat many different musculoskeletal conditions:

  • Neck, lower back, and back pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic headaches
  • Arthritis
  • Whiplash
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Car accident injuries
  • Injuries from repetitive motions
  • Sciatica pain

Chiropractors can specialize in various sectors like:

  • Orthopedics
  • Sports medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Pediatrics

Physical Therapist Treatment Approach

Physical therapists diagnose any physical issues that could be affecting a patient’s balance, mobility, strength, and range of motion. They strive to help patients improve their overall health by relieving them of pain that they face daily.

Physical therapists design specialized plans for each of their patients, depending on their unique needs and condition. They focus on long-term rehab and try to prevent future pain or injuries.

There are many reasons why someone might see a physical therapist:

  • Sports injuries
  • Recovering from surgery
  • Disease recovery (stroke, multiple sclerosis, etc.)
  • Mobility issues

Chiropractors can choose to specialize in occupational therapy, sports medicine, geriatrics, and more.

Chiropractic Care Benefits

Chiropractors are specialized professionals that help patients manage various conditions. Here are some benefits of working with a chiropractor:

  • Personalized treatment plan: Each body requires a different approach. Chiropractors create customized treatment plans to provide relief for patients. Treatments may even vary between sessions.
  • Non-invasive approach: If you’ve never visited a chiropractor, you’re probably wondering whether this type of treatment is safe. Because it’s non-invasive, the risk of complications is much lower. Studies show that chiropractic care rarely results in long-term side effects.   
  • Immediate benefits: Patients usually say that they experience relief immediately after their session or shortly after individual adjustments.

Physiotherapy Benefits

When deciding between physical therapy or chiropractor, consider your goals. Physical therapy can benefit your overall health and mobility.

If you are dealing with pain due to a neck or back injury, consider visiting a physical therapist to get these benefits:

  • Rehab and recovery: Physiotherapy is an excellent way to put your body through rehab and improve your range of motion. Physical therapists identify problems and patterns to create a personalized care plan.
  • Less of a need for medication or surgery: Before pursuing conventional medical treatment, try consulting a physiotherapist. You may find that one of their treatments helps you manage your condition and removes the need for a more invasive procedure.
  • Preventing injuries: Physical therapy is all about strengthening the body. As a result, patients are much stronger and less at risk of getting injuries.

The Choice Between Chiropractic Care Or Physical Therapy

The difference between a chiropractor and physical therapy is the approach. Chiropractors use joint manipulation, and physiotherapists use mobilization techniques.

If you are dealing with chronic pain due to an existing condition or injury, consider one of these types of therapy. Pursuing physical therapy or a chiropractor is an excellent way to improve your overall health and manage pain.

You can incorporate both of these treatments into your wellness routine for a range of benefits. The decision is personal, and you should choose between the two depending on your health.

We hope that this Sunrise Chiropractic article cleared up any confusion you may have about the differences between chiropractic care and physiotherapy.


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