If you’ve ever had back pain, you’ll appreciate that the need for pain relief can’t come quickly enough. But back pain is an issue that must be handled long-term, not just masked with strong drugs or occasional bed rest.
Searching online for therapies could leave you scratching your head, though. Some will recommend that you see a physical therapist, others a chiropractor. There you sit. In pain, wondering who should win the debate of chiropractor versus physical therapist: what’s right for me?
You’re right in presuming that both professional chiropractors and physical therapists are experts in back pain and in providing relief. They’re both licensed professionals who use only non-invasive techniques to promote long-term recovery.
Which therapist you choose depends on the kind of injury you have and the pain that you’re in. Let’s review the pros and cons of each when deciding between a chiropractor and a physical therapist.
What’s Causing Your Pain?
Sometimes the most frustrating issue with pain, particularly chronic or long-term pain, is not understanding why it’s occurring.
Simply sitting with poor posture at a workstation for long periods of time can result in agonizing back pain. Lifting a heavy object, bending over to pick something up, or sleeping in an awkward position can all put our backs out of joint in just a few seconds, leaving us unable to move.
Or perhaps you’ve had a car accident or other injury that isn’t healing by itself and needs attention. Even if you’re not sure why you’re struggling with pain, it can help to do research, such as this great article on understanding back pain.
Whatever the reason for your back pain is, the first thing you should always do is consult a physician. Traditional medical doctors can provide the right kinds of tests, including x-rays and scans, to diagnose the cause, and then recommend the correct treatment so that you can assess that given the choice of chiropractor versus physical therapist: what’s right for me?
Benefits of Chiropractors vs Physical Therapists
Once the reason for the pain has been established, then you’ll have a better idea of how you want to go about getting the right kind of therapy. It helps to know why a chiropractor and a physical therapist are different. This can help you better see whose methods will match up with the treatment you need.
Seeing a Chiropractor
Chiropractors work on the tenet of pain in the body being managed by correct alignment of the joints, particularly the spine.
Even those who haven’t had a serious injury and instead suffer from back pain due to factors such as poor posture or a non-supportive mattress can be helped when the spine is correctly aligned once more.
With the understanding that the body has incredible ability to heal itself, a chiropractor will perform adjustments of the spine, neck, shoulders, and other joints to bring the body into its correct alignment. Once the problem is corrected, the body then takes over the healing process and restores the movement and fluidity of the joints.
Not only that, but studies have shown that there is an abundance of health benefits that come from a chiropractor’s healing hands, including the lowering of blood pressure and the alleviation of migraines, as we break down in more detail here.
Identifying the Root Cause of Pain
As we’ve written about previously in our blog, a chiropractor, particularly one who specializes in Network Spinal Analysis, focuses on the root cause of pain. Fixing the root cause ensures that healing can begin to take place.
If the pain is especially acute, a chiropractor is often the first port of call for many. This is because spinal misalignment can cause excruciating agony with pressure on the nerves, and by adjusting the spinal column, this pressure is immediately released.
Seeing a Physical Therapist
While a chiropractor works to put everything back in alignment with manipulations and adjustments using their bare hands, a physical therapist works to ensure that the body is moving as well as it can.
This means looking after all the muscles and joints in the body that contribute toward movement, not just focusing on the back and neck.
If you have a torn calf muscle, for example, and have difficulty moving your leg, a physical therapist will work to get the muscle to repair at the optimum rate. This can help you recover as quickly as possible. Of course, this wouldn’t need a chiropractor’s adjustments, but instead requires deep tissue massage and exercise of the leg, both of which a physical therapist would provide.
Physical therapists are also highly proficient at dealing with sports injuries. Both chiropractors and PTs can work with people of all ages. This includes adjustments to the very young or the very old.
One-on-One, Working Alone?
Many choose to see a chiropractor because they get a huge amount of benefit from seeing a therapist one-on-one. The care that they receive is uniquely designed for them and their needs.
Physical therapists, on the other hand, while doing some of their therapy hands-on, also recommend exercises and stretches that the patient can do at home. They recommend and even lease types of equipment that can be used outside of the clinic setting.
If you’re more of a fan of the hands-on approach and being in the careful hands of a therapist throughout your treatment, then you might find that a chiropractor’s just what you need.
Why Can’t You Have Both a D.C. & PT?
You can. There’s nothing to say that you can’t use the expertise of both a chiropractor and a physical therapist at the same time. That way, the question of ‘Chiropractor Versus Physical Therapist: What’s Right for Me?’ doesn’t have to be such a headache.
Complimentary therapy is a great way of getting the full benefits of professional recovery help and having both work together creates better healing outcomes.
If you’re still unsure, this article effectively breaks down deciding between a chiropractor vs a physical therapist. You can have a better idea of who can best treat the injury or affliction that you’ve sustained.
It could be that you decide on a program where a chiropractor helps alleviate acute pain, especially in the spine, and a physical therapist can later help you build strength in the back muscles once more after the spinal alignment has taken place.
Chiropractor Versus Physical Therapist: What’s Right for Me?
There’s no doubt that both therapists will aim to get you back to peak physical condition, and we especially like to focus on your mental wellbeing, which is just as important as physical health.