Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapist: What Are the Differences?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around one million Americans experience a back injury each year. When you’re suffering from back problems, you may be curious about the difference between a chiropractor vs. a physical therapist in treating this issue.

Though some treatments overlap, the two fields are distinct. Read our physical therapist and chiropractor guide below to learn what each profession does and who to go to for help.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

So what exactly is a chiropractor? These alternative healthcare professionals restore and realign the back and body.

Common issues that a chiropractor may treat include:

  • Neck pain
  • Sciatica
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Many people think hand manipulations are a chiropractor’s only treatment technique. In fact, they rely on a combination of therapies and technologies to restore back function and relieve pain.

For example, the practitioners at Waterside Chiropractic take a holistic approach to treat ailments and back conditions. They may recommend nutrition changes and new lifestyle habits like exercise to improve back and neck function.

Chiropractors must undergo extensive training before they are allowed to treat back problems. These healthcare professionals are experts in anything related to the health of the nervous system and spine.

What Is a Physical Therapist?

Physical therapists treat injuries or disorders using manual manipulation. The goal of a physical therapist is to restore muscle and body movement. In addition, they aim to treat the body without surgical procedures or prescription medications.

Like chiropractors, physical therapists work with their hands using mobilization techniques. They also advise on exercises and stretching to help patients regain mobility.

Physical therapists help people recover from a wide range of injuries. For example, your doctor may assign you a physical therapist if you have recently undergone surgery or suffered a debilitating sports injury. These holistic professionals also help children recover from or better cope with musculoskeletal issues.

Which Treatment Is Right for Me?

Should you choose a chiropractor or physical therapist? It’s always best to make that decision in consultation with your primary care doctor.

If you are primarily dealing with longstanding back pain, your best bet may be to find a chiropractor. Most doctors will refer you to a physical therapist if you are recovering from surgery.

Chiropractors deal with back and neck injuries. A physical therapist will address damage to other body parts.Like chiropractors, physical therapists work with their hands using mobilization techniques. They also advise on exercises and stretching to help patients regain mobility.

Learn More About a Chiropractor vs. a Physical Therapist

In some ways, the work performed by a chiropractor vs. a physical therapist overlaps. Both professions use focused hand manipulations to help the body heal.

Hand manipulation also restores flexibility and range of motion following an injury. When in doubt, consult with your primary care physician about which option will work best for you.

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Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapist: What Are the Differences?
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