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Physical Therapy vs. Chiropractic - A Comprehensive Comparison and More


Physical therapy vs. chiropractic, which one is the better option and more suitable for you?!

You've probably encountered that dilemma, asking the same question while trying to find the best and most resultful solution for your pain.

Both practices have recently attracted a lot of attention, becoming popular among patients suffering from muscle pain, joints, etc. You are probably already aware that physical therapists and chiropractors commonly work with their hands to treat pain in different body parts such as the back, neck, shoulders, and more. These specialists are famous for their healing touch, while patients will be addressed with a non-invasive and drug-free treatment.

Although they both work to remedy damage to muscles, bones, and joints, there are noticeable differences, perhaps as much as similarities.

This article aims to introduce some of the significant differences and slight similarities between the two, explaining why these methods are in no way interchangeable.

Physical Therapy and Chiropractic

Both chiropractors and physical therapists have to deal with musculoskeletal and back-related disorders, and there is a thin line between the two. Both practitioners should have a license and need a university degree to practice in their professions.

They both need considerable knowledge about musculoskeletal problems, and their job requires skills to treat these issues, relieve the pain, and improve mobility through using their hands. With that being said, there is an overlap and subtle similarities here.

Neither of these professions stands higher than the other, and eventually, what makes you pick one, is the essence of your problem, and professionals must recommend the best way to address it.

What Is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is the science of addressing pain concerning neuromuscular disorders.

Chiropractors aid restore the body, balancing pulled or pinched nerves, alleviating the pain, and returning to full function using a practice called "chiropractic manipulations." They achieve that by use of their hands to adjust the spine and joints with signs of stiffness.

They mainly deal with problems such as lower back pain, neck pain, dizziness, tension headaches, sciatica, vertigo, etc. The best way to describe them is by relying on their expertise in healing the spine and nervous system. Their holistic approach to treatment is also unique as they offer suggestions on how to eat, what diet is needed, and even the changes in lifestyle like exercising and individual practices.

These practitioners, with years of training, help remedy some of the worst situations while decreasing the pain and suffering tremendously:

A chiropractic program generally consists of three steps or treatment:

1. A thorough assessment and examination leads to the issue diagnosis and might require x-rays.

2. Chiropractors do adjustment and manipulation.

3. They also design a treatment program for every patient individually based on their medical history and the underlying cause of the problem.

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapists, also known as physiotherapists, have the same hand-related operations.

Like chiropractors, they also try to help the pain go away, and mobility becomes possible again. They also render normal body functions without needing medication or going under the knife.

A closer look will show how they work with patients to restore muscle movement instead of working on nerves. Physical therapy helps with muscle pain, improves life quality, and provides the patients with various exercises, stretching activities, and mobilizing instructions.

Physical therapy specialties are known for focusing on muscles and are mostly called movement experts. For people who struggle while moving around, they render solutions and restore body functions.

Physical therapy care is usually for back and neck pain, sciatica, arthritis, repetitive movement injuries, sports injuries, and tendon damage swelling in joints, cartilage, and ligament.

Many musculoskeletal issues like pre/post functioning rehabilitation and developmental delay in children can be addressed this way too.

Some physiotherapists employ hands-on techniques, like exercises, massage, joint mobilization, manipulation, stretching, taping, heat and ice. Some others rely on electrical or physical aids, while others use a combination of both.

A physical therapy program generally consists of three steps or treatment:

  • Assessment and diagnosis with their medical history taking into consideration

  • Setting sessions for hands-on therapy

  • Applying an overall restoring and prevention plan

  • Provide clients with exercise instructions and physical aides if needed further on.

Physical Therapy vs. Chiropractic

Similarities: Both physical therapists and chiropractors hold a certificate and need training and university degrees to heal musculoskeletal problems.

  • They use their hands to improve muscles and joint mobility and quench their pain.

  • Both professions are anti-drugs and try to prevent the overuse of painkillers and open a window to avoid the inevitable surgery.

  • Both practitioners can offer a holistic plan for overall better treatment and lifestyle.

Differences: They have different techniques and approaches.

  • While the problems they cure are similar, chiropractic specialists use more hands, and physiotherapists prefer to work with devices.

  • However, as we mentioned, chiropractors work with nerves, vertebras, and the spinal cord, whereas physical therapists work with soft tissue and muscles.

  • Chiropractors have "vertebra and joint manipulation," and physical therapists apply mobilization techniques (such as exercises, massages, other physical aids, etc.)

Which One Is Better?

With these techniques, there isn't a matter of one being better than the other; rather, it depends on which method is more suited to treat every person. Some find chiropractic care irreplaceable, others are more comfortable with physical therapy, and their bodies react better to the latter.

For example, when you are in need of spinal cord adjustment, chiropractic care is what your body craves, while physical therapy primarily deals with aching rather than treating the issue.

Final Word

The most valuable takeaway when comparing physical therapy vs. chiropractic is considering all your options before trying each care system. If you can't cope with the pain anymore, remember to give them a try when introduced to each partitioner. Then keep in mind that both practices are worth trying, and with professional help, you can undoubtedly expect excellent results.

To know more about these therapies, you can read some articles here.


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