Physical therapists and chiropractors–aren’t they both one and the same? If you have asked yourself this question, then you are not alone. While they are both specialists in their field, physical therapists and chiropractors treat different types of patients.
Very effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, this specialty usually involves spinal manipulation to ease problems with the ligaments, tendons, nerves or joints in the body. Most often used to relieve spinal problems, the treatment is gentle and, above-all, safe. Along with secondary treatments such as heat, ice, exercise, acupuncture and ultrasound, the chiropractor can also offer the patient detailed information on lifestyle and posture that can considerably add to the benefits of the actual chiropractic treatment.
A chiropractor is the best choice when treating musculoskeletal conditions such as:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
Chiropractic care is also very effective in treating certain medical conditions, regardless of age, from a baby up to the eldest of patients. It is also a fact that some conditions are actually caused by the spinal bone or bones being out of alignment. This can cause extreme pain and irritation to the nerves, which can then lead to the patient developing certain diseases or other conditions.
Some examples of the conditions that chiropractic has proven to be effective in treating or bringing some kind of relief to are:
- Stomach pains (colic)
- Certain types of infertility
- Menstrual problems
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Infections of the respiratory system
- Recurring ear infections
- Curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
- Multiple sclerosis
This can be a grey area in the argument between physical therapy and chiropractic. Many everyday injuries can be effectively treated by both specialties. Your physician will recommend which one is appropriate for your condition. Injuries that can be effectively treated by a chiropractor include:
- Sports injuries
- Work related injuries
- Injuries from a fall
- Injuries sustained from lifting a heavy object
- Chronic injuries
- Car accidents
Physical therapy approaches treatment in a holistic manner, with a goal of helping people who are experiencing restricted movement–due to disability, illness or injury– to recover as much movement as possible.
You will find physical therapists in most hospitals, sports clinics and healthcare centers, as they are often an integral part of a patient’s road to recovery.
Physical therapists use treatment such as:
- Exercise and movement
- Manually using their hands to encourage blood flow, ease pain in the muscles and help to reduce stiffness in the affected part of the body
- Temperature treatments
- Physical therapy carried out in a pool (aquatic therapy) to ease the pressure on the joints.
A physical therapist’s expertise is often called upon to treat physical issues connected with the body’s system. This can include:
- Respiratory problems
- Problems with the bones, soft tissues and joints (musculoskeletal)
- Problems with the brain and nervous system (neuromuscular)
- Problems with the heart and circulation of the blood (cardiovascular)
While there are some areas where the skills of both the physical therapist and the chiropractor can overlap–for example, when treating musculoskeletal issues–both specialties have very different and very defined areas of expertise. Be guided by your physician, who will have the knowledge and experience to advise you on which therapist is the right one for you.