Physical Therapy vs Chiropractic Care

A lot of people ask me…”How is physical therapy different from chiropractic care?”  I am not a chiropractor, but I do know that we have different philosophies and approach to treatment.  It is my understanding that Chiropractor’s focus on the skeletal system.  They assess & realign the joints to restore mobility through manipulation. This can be done manually or through the use of a tool called an Activator.  Chiropractors are known for focusing on the spine as well.   I received chiropractic adjustments as a young child and teen for several years after motor vehicle accidents.   I remember clearly the chiropractor giving me an “adjustment” using the Activator and then performing some massage and occasionally using ultrasound.  I believe that the treatment was effective at the time and that with chiropractic care my body was able to heal quicker.  Chiropractors and Physical Therapists both can do massage and use modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation and ice and heat to assist with pain reduction.  Additionally both Chiropractors and Physical Therapists can both be Doctors.

Physical Therapists also perform joint mobilization and joint manipulation.  We do not use a tool to do this we solely rely on our hands to do it manually.  The difference between Physical Therapists and Chiropractors is that we perform joint mobilization in conjunction with manual soft tissue massage/mobilization, stretching, ROM exercises, and strengthening and stabilization exercises. Our goal is to restore the mobility in the joint, decrease the spasming in the surrounding soft tissues and then maintain the gained mobility. In addition, we want you to gain strength through the mobility that was restored through exercises and stay in a home maintenance program so you don’t need physical therapy ongoing for the issue you are having problems with.  We are exercise specialists and therefore exercise is a huge part of a physical therapy program for this reason.  Physical Therapists not only work with the musculoskeletal system, but also we work with the neuromuscular system.  Some examples are patients whom have had a brain injury, i.e.: Stroke, Parkinson disease, Multiple sclerosis, and Pediatric conditions such as Cerebral palsy and Down syndrome and  conditions such as Spinal cord injury, nerve injuries and vestibular issues.  We work to restore mobility, movement and function in these patients to allow them to have the highest quality of life.  Lastly Physical Therapists work with the Cardiopulmonary system to improve endurance, decreases swelling in limbs and improve overall heart and respiratory health through exercise.   I am probably missing some stuff because there isn’t much that we can’t help fix.  If you have pain or a limitation in your daily function we are the practitioners you want to go see and if we can’t help we will find you the right health care practitioner that can.  I hope this helped you understand what we Physical Therapists do and how physical therapy is different from chiropractic care.

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