What is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who specializes in treating the neuromusculoskeletal system, meaning they focus on muscular, bone, and joint health. The goal of a chiropractor is to reduce stressors and compression on your spine and nervous system to get to the root of your discomfort, thereby bolstering mobility and reducing pain.
How Chiropractic Care Works
Chiropractors can use a variety of approaches depending on the needs of each individual patient. This can include physical manipulation of different body parts in order to alleviate pressure and promote better alignment. It can also involve the use of sophisticated machinery, like ultrasounds, x-rays, spinal decompressors, and more to aid in specific treatments.
Generally speaking, chiropractic care is a pretty hands-on approach, focusing on functional treatments as an alternative to surgeries and medication. Chiropractic care can include treatments commonly found in physical therapy, like supervised exercises, strength training, massage therapy.
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists expertise is movement. Their goal is to restore strength and mobility to specific parts of the body after injury, illness, or surgery.
To compare, chiropractors specialty includes bone cracking and spinal realignment while physical therapists focus more on recovery through strength, fitness, and mobility.
How Physical Therapy Works
There is certainly overlap between chiropractic care and physical therapy: both are fairly hands-on, and both can include supplemental treatments like massage therapy and nutritional plans in order to help patients achieve the best possible results.
Physical therapy, however, doesn’t focus on spinal realignment. It can also be a more holistic approach than chiropractic care, shifting focus from the spine and nerves towards the patient’s full-body symptoms and lifestyle factors. Physical therapy can also be used as a preventative method against injury.
However, treatment can vary depending on the care you choose.
How Should You Choose?
All in all, there are benefits to working with both a chiropractor and a physical therapist. If you’re experiencing a spinal injury, issues with your nervous system, or are in need of diagnostic imaging to be part of your diagnosis and treatment, a chiropractor may be right for you.
On the other hand, if you’re struggling with muscular pain, an old sports injury, or simply want to prevent serious injury as you age, you may want to consider working with a physical therapist.
It’s a good rule of thumb not to rule out either specialty entirely. Instead, reach out to and talk to practitioners whose approaches and philosophies mirror what you’re looking for in your care.
Look for providers who are well-known for their attentiveness, positive patient outcomes, and a focus on providing positive long-term outcomes. Finding a provider who meets these criteria–whether a chiropractor or physical therapist–you can rest assured of quality care.