Two of the most common complementary therapies available today are chiropractic care and physical therapy. While both types of medical therapy involve treating musculoskeletal issues, they are very different types of treatment.
Because there is a certain amount of overlap between the two, it’s a good idea to take time to understand what each of these therapies involves before deciding which one is right for you.
What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a specialist who uses body manipulation to treat a variety of health problems. A chiropractor uses alignment techniques to make adjustments to joints and bones, especially in the back, which in turn helps to alleviate pain.
In this way, chiropractors diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Chiropractors must complete four years of chiropractic school in which they gain vast knowledge about the intricacies of the human body and how it works.
What Is a Physical Therapist?
A physical therapist helps patients recover from musculoskeletal injuries and conditions so they can have maximum physical functionality. Physical therapists serve as teachers and coaches who demonstrate beneficial exercises, monitor the patient’s progress, and help them make their bodies stronger and more flexible.
Physical therapists use a variety of treatments including exercise routines, massage, and hydrotherapy to help strengthen and restore range of motion in the body. A physical therapist must complete a graduate degree in physical therapy, usually requiring three to four years of study and often a doctorate.
Similarities Between Chiropractors and Physical Therapists
Both chiropractic care and physical therapy serve as complementary treatments to traditional medicine. Both of these medical professions help reduce symptoms and pain as well as treat conditions better than using traditional medicine alone.
Another similarity between the two fields is that they usually require repeat appointments for best results. These visits occur at scheduled intervals for the treatment to work best.
Both fields typically do not require medications and are noninvasive, and there are very few risks associated with them.
Differences Between Chiropractors and Physical Therapists
Chiropractic care involves making adjustments to the spine and neck as well as joints in the body. The chiropractor does the adjustments in his or her medical office and, depending on the number of physical adjustments needed, appointments can take as little as five minutes.
Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve a variety of health problems, including:
- Fertility problems
- Respiratory infections
- Menstrual problems
- Gastrointestinal conditions
- Abdominal pain
- Aches and pains in joints or muscles
Physical therapy involves using a variety of treatments including exercises, massages, heat therapy, ice therapy, and electrical nerve stimulation. All of these can help reduce pain and make the body stronger and more flexible.
The specific types of physical therapy treatments used for a patient depends on the condition or injury they have, which can include:
- Reducing pain and inflammation in joints due to injury or illness
- Relieving arthritis pain
- Rehabilitation after injury or surgery
- Improving flexibility and range of motion in joints
- Strengthening muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons
Which One Is Right for You?
While both of these specialties are beneficial, they each serve a different purpose. The best person to speak to about whether you need a chiropractor or a physical therapist is your doctor.
He or she will be able to examine your medical history and health issues and can recommend the right types of follow-up treatments to improve your specific condition.
Family Doctors in Washington and Oregon
A reputable and experienced medical team by your side can make the path to healing and wellness more pleasant. Lynx Healthcare offers a wide variety of medical care services including interventional pain medicine, allergy and immunology, family medicine, regenerative medicine, chiropractic care, massage and physical therapy, and much more.
To make an appointment at any of our clinics in Oregon, Yakima, Goldendale, or the Tri-Cities, call us today at (509) 591-0070. For an appointment at our Spokane clinic, call (509) 321-4575. We look forward to helping you live a fuller, more pain-free lifestyle.