Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapist: Which One Should You Pursue?


Chiropractor vs. Physical TherapistSo you are suffering from some form of neck or back pain, and now you are wondering whether it is a chiropractor or physical therapist that you should consult.

You might be searching for help from any of the two professionals because you want your physical problem to be addressed non-invasively, and also without the use of drugs. Oftentimes it can be hard to tell if it’s a chiropractor or physical therapist that you should approach because both of them seem to provide what some may perceive as similar treatment modalities for the same kind of health problems.  But as you may have also guessed, chiropractor school can be different from physical therapy school, which means that they may have learned different skill sets.

Knowing the key differences between a chiropractor and physical therapist allows you to determine which of the two professionals you should seek in order to have the issue concerning your neck or back resolved. Approaching the right kind of expert is important if you want to attain relief in the kind of treatment of your preference.

Here are some of the most important things you need to know about a chiropractor and physical therapist:

Where They Can be Found

Commonly, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a chiropractor or physical therapist. You can, however, also look up chiropractors or physical therapists on the internet or in the yellow pages should you decide to take matters into your own hands. Chiropractors and physical therapists can be usually found in different work settings.

More often than not, chiropractors have their own private clinics. However, there are also chiropractors that are employed by hospitals and various health care systems.

On the other hand, most physical therapists can be found in a variety of medical facilities, from large tertiary hospitals to small emergency care facilities. It’s not unlikely for you to also hear about physical therapists exclusively working for private companies. These days, however, there are also physical therapists with their own clinics.

Treatment Techniques Used

Mobilization, adjustment, manipulation – these are the words commonly used to refer to the treatment techniques used by chiropractors. These techniques are employed to relieve unnecessary pressure on the spine, and to restore its stability as well as reinstate and improve its functioning.

Aside from manual techniques, it’s not unlikely for chiropractors to also use specialized instruments, just like physical therapists, to help relieve inflammation and pain, and also to speed up the process of healing.

Treatment techniques used by physical therapists can also involve manual manipulation as well as the utilization of certain instruments. Physical therapists are widely known to provide therapeutic massages and design and implement rehabilitative exercise programs that can assist in restoring mobility and reducing inflammation and pain.

Educational and Training Background

Depending on local regulations and laws, chiropractors may be required to have a Bachelor’s Degree, and then obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. After successfully completing their college education, they might need to take the exam and obtain their licenses. Chiropractors might also be required to undergo continuing education in order to maintain licensure.

Physical therapists, on the other hand, might also need to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in a field that’s related to health, and then afterwards successfully finish a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, depending on laws that are applicable in the area of practice. They will need to meet the licensing requirements of the state they are in for them to become and work as professionals.

There are a number of various continuing education programs available for today’s physical therapists.

Their Respective Status

You may be intrigued to hear that a chiropractor is sometimes referred to as DC, which is short for Doctor of Chiropractic. No, chiropractors are not regarded as medical doctors. Most of the time, chiropractors are regarded as health care providers. For insurance purposes, sometimes chiropractors are considered as health care providers, but there are times, too, that they may not be regarded as such.

Just like a chiropractor, a physical therapist is not a medical doctor, and cannot be approached for prescriptions for pain and inflammation, except for someone who is in the military, a matter which was discussed earlier.

The insurance industry considers physical therapists as specialty practitioners, and most insurance plans pay for physical therapy services that are considered as medical necessities.

General Expertise

Chiropractors are well-known to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of problems concerning the spine and neck, but not a lot of people are aware that they are also capable of dealing with minor issues concerning other joints. Their knowledge oftentimes extends into the range of general medicine and physical therapy, too.

Physical therapists are experts in restoring normal movement of the body after a physical injury or surgery, or due to a dysfunction. It’s not unlikely for their knowledge to also extend into the scope of general medicine and chiropractic.

As you can see, both chiropractic and physical therapy can extend into one another’s scope, and this is one of the reasons why it’s not unlikely for an individual who is having issues with mobility and is seeking a non-invasive and non-drug approach to be confused as to which type of care he or she should opt for.

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