Chiropractic Care vs. Physical Therapy: Which One Do You Need?
You may be experiencing pain and wondering whether to consult a physical therapist or a chiropractor. Although both disciplines have their similarities, they have differences as well. So, how do you know which therapy to get?
Physical therapy and chiropractic care treat and manage bodily pain and stiffness, and licensed professionals with years of education practice both disciplines. However, their approaches can be slightly different.
The main goal of physical therapy is to help patients achieve pain-free movement. It focuses on how the body moves and functions as a whole.
This discipline's practitioners—physical therapists or physiotherapists—help their patients perform stretches and exercises. They may also perform some manipulations for certain conditions to improve patients' mobility.
Physical therapy treatment may include:
An evaluation of the patient's pain, movement, and flexibility
Posture education with instructions on how to move to avoid pain or injury
Heat or cold therapy and other modalities to reduce pain
A wellness plan to improve patients' overall health
Performing wound care
Who benefits from physical therapy?
Physical therapy may be for you if you have limited movement, mainly due to an accident, surgery, or a health condition. You may also want to consider this treatment if you feel pain when moving, want to maintain or increase your ability to move with ease, or need to build strength and combat the effects of a health condition like Parkinson's disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, COPD, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.
When researching, it's also essential to note that most physical therapists have specializations, such as treating amputees or children. They may also focus on a particular condition, like sports injuries or health conditions.
One of the main goals of chiropractic care is achieving pain relief and alignment of the spine. Chiropractors primarily focus on issues related to headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain. The discipline focuses specifically on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
Unlike physical therapists, chiropractors perform only adjustments and manipulations to help the human body heal itself. But just like physical therapy, this discipline doesn't involve taking medications or undergoing surgery.
Who benefits from chiropractic care?
Consulting a chiropractor may be helpful for you if you have back pain, neck pain, joint pain, and headaches.
When consulting with a chiropractor, expect them to evaluate your symptoms based on physical exams and tests, like an x-ray. They typically adjust areas of the body or use techniques like spinal manipulation to help decrease pain and inflammation.
Chiropractors may also discuss other forms of treatment and recommend doing specific exercises at home or making lifestyle adjustments to reduce pain and inflammation.
Which therapy do you need?
The best way to determine the proper course of action is to evaluate your condition and needs. Depending on your situation, getting both physical therapy and chiropractic care may work best to help relieve pain and improve your quality of life. It's also important to talk to your doctor when deciding on the type of therapy to get.