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Chiropractic vs. Physical Therapy – Is there a difference?

Have you ever been confused as to whether you should be seeing a chiropractor or a physical therapist? On the surface, it can seem like the two professions are very similar- both can help patients with injuries and both have a natural approach as opposed to treatment with the use of drugs and/or surgery. Even their professional symbols are Symbols - USE THIS ONEnotably similar. But the two professions are actually very different and have completely different focuses- which means the utilization of each are not the same.

Physical therapy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is therapy for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disability, injury, or disease. So basically, if a joint is injured or is affected by a disability and/or disease, the physical therapists work to restore the normal motion of the joint. They do this through the use therapeutic exercise, physical modalities, patient education, and training to do so. Their goal is to increase the range of motion of the affected joints, and build musculature to support the structure of that joint. When looking to rehabilitate soft tissue, physical therapists are the experts!

With regards to chiropractic, the type of chiropractic care we provide in the office focuses on correcting the structure of the spine. When spinal bones are misaligned (or subluxated), they begin to put pressure on the spinal nerves that serve as the communication gateway between the brain and wherever that nerve controls. Pressure on the nerves results in a disrupted signal, and can cause secondary conditions. These secondary conditions can manifest in many ways, and can even sometimes mimic conditions that are often treated by physical therapists. It’s important to note that soft tissue rehabilitation will never correct spinal misalignments, so if the condition is related to the spine, a chiropractor is who you will want to see.

Still confused? Choosing the appropriate provider isn’t always as easy as following a recipe. That’s why a thorough evaluation is so crucial. We pride ourselves on our detailed examination because our ultimate goal is to be certain that our patients are receiving the care that is appropriate for their condition. Sometimes conditions should be handled solely by a physical therapist or solely by a chiropractor; sometimes, however, a condition should be co-managed by both a chiropractor and a physical therapist who will work together to achieve a common goal. Regardless, once an examination is complete, we will be sure to get you to the appropriate health care professional, removing the worry of whether or not you’re in the right place!