Most of the time we go to the doctor when we’re sick, in need of an annual checkup, or have found ourselves dealing with an injury. But sometimes, especially as we age, we can find ourselves with pulled muscles, surprise aches and pains, or a clicking knee that seems to happen when the temperature shifts. Where do we go then? You may still go to your family doctor, who may prescribe some anti-inflammatories, a check-up, or recommend you visit another practitioner. Your friend or neighbor may suggest a physical therapist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, or a massage therapist. While there are some similarities, there are many differences. In this blog post, we’ll clarify when to see a chiropractor and when you should be scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist.
What do Chiropractors and Physical Therapists (PTs) have in common?
Chiropractic doctors and physical therapists are both licensed professionals who will have completed years of education in their field. Both have an in-depth understanding of human anatomy. PTs and chiropractors will utilize a holistic approach for pain management in both areas of practice and strive to prevent surgery using non-invasive methods. Both may use manual techniques to combat stiffness and pain while prioritizing regaining and maintaining maximum mobility.
What’s the difference between Chiropractic Care and Physiotherapy?
Typically, chiropractors provide musculoskeletal care through manual therapy, manipulation, and adjustments. Chiropractors are considered alternative medicine and there is some dispute regarding the scientific foundation of the practice. Physical therapy is considered an allied health profession, although is moving towards primary care for musculoskeletal conditions hence the switch to doctoral level degree. A PT may prescribe specific exercises for your condition to practice at home or at the clinic with the goal of strengthening and improving your mobility and range of motion with long-lasting results. Physical therapists can diagnose physical abnormalities, and treat all ages from newborns to end of life.
Who should I see?
The short answer: it depends! If you’re looking to address mobility, surgery prevention, or recovering from an injury, a physical therapist is a good choice. If you’re looking to quickly relieve back pain or neck pain a visit to a chiropractor can definitely help! As with other manual therapies, you will need to visit a chiropractor repeatedly to get relief.