Chiropractic Care vs. Physical Therapy

Chiropractic and physical therapy may be considered specialty health care services whose professionals help in the treatment of different injuries or trauma to the body.

Chiropractic focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of the mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system through manipulating your spine and adjacent muscles. Physical therapy focuses on rehabilitative health and uses specially designed exercises and equipment to help patients regain or improve their physical abilities.


The Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are specialized in the adjustment of the spine. Physical therapists (PTs) are specialized in human movements and the restoration of all dysfunctions related to movements.


The two disciplines may differ in the way they treat the condition but they have essentially the same goal, i.e., to relieve tension, strengthen the nerves, and restore normal mobility in the patient without the use of drugs or surgery. Let us take as an example the treatment of back pain, which can be treated using either of these two approaches.


Chiropractic Treatment


Back pains are usually caused by slipped or dislocated discs, wherein the pain is created from the pinching effect on the nerve in the spinal column. The chiropractor will manipulate with speed and force the slipped disc and strained nerve to return to their original positions. The tension coming from the stressed joint will be released at this point. For this procedure to be effective, you should be calm and relaxed.


With the initial treatment session, you will already feel significant improvement with your condition – you will notice that the pain in your back has been reduced and you would have better mobility. The release of tension can also relieve compression of the blood vessels and facilitate the flow of blood to the affected area. You should know, however, that the part of your back that had been manipulated may sore for close to 24 hours after the chiropractic treatment, but the application of ice to this area often reduces this condition.


Chiropractic care tends to focus on full-body health and the interaction between your spine and the rest of your body as opposed to focusing on a single joint.


Physical Therapy Treatment


Physical therapy can utilize a series of techniques, which can include massage, ultrasound, heat therapy, mobilization and exercises. Therapists are more likely to concentrate on stretching and strengthening the muscles including the connective tissues near the affected area, all to improve your posture, stance, and support, and, at the same time, enhance flexibility and movement. This rehab is done is carried out focusing specifically on the joint and/or muscle.


Additionally, physical therapy aims to provide gradual recovery and in maintaining the positive results initially obtained. The effects, therefore, may not be experienced right away, unlike those of a chiropractic session. It takes about two weeks of regular sessions for you to notice a difference. The length of time for the result of the physical therapy to be felt caries from one person to another and may depend on the type of injury you have. In any case, patience, persistence, and dedication to completing the prescribed activities and program are necessary for the therapy to be effective. Nevertheless, after completing the program, you should experience reduced pain and tension.


Chiropractic and physical therapy are two different methods to solve problems which may not necessarily be similar in condition. It is best to have your situation evaluated to determine the best method to fix the problem that you are facing.