Many people often ask me, what is the difference between chiropractic and physical therapy? People who are experiencing pain get confused on whether they should see a physical therapist or a chiropractor. I’d like to dive into this topic more with this blog post. Let’s get started with a description of each, how they are similar, how they differ, and which may be the better option for you based on your needs.
The main focus of chiropractic is the spine. We also work on extremity issues with great success. The basis of our technique though, is spinal health. The human spine is designed to keep us upright (think posture) and to protect the nervous system. Any pain or injury or change to the spine can affect how you feel and how you function. The chiropractor’s job is to find spinal restrictions or injuries and restore movement and position to those areas. By doing this, the body feels better, the body heals better, and the body functions better. Our philosophy is that the body is self-healing. My job as a chiropractor is to help your body heal the best it can through a healthy spial column. Chiropractic is famous for helping people get out of pain, and it is also used to help promote overall health and wellbeing.
Physical therapists work to help people feel better by addressing musculoskeletal issues through the modalities of stretching, strengthening and sometimes using passive techniques like laser, ultrasound, dry needling, etc… Usually, PT is performed for a set amount of time or visits to restore the patient back to the state they desire, which is typically pain free. Once the patient is pain free, they stop physical therapy.
Which is best for me?
It really depends on what you are looking for. If you want an overall wholistic approach to improving your body’s ability to heal itself than chiropractic is for you. If you are looking for a biomechanical approach to your pain than PT would be a good choice. It does not have to be an either-or decision. Many people choose to use both! There is not a right or wrong answer when it comes to chiropractic and physical therapy. I recommend finding which style you prefer. Most importantly is finding the person you resonate with and enjoy working with, no matter which profession they are in.
I attended a recent workshop by a local Orthopedic surgeon. It was a very informative session. The topic discussed was new procedures for the knee and shoulder joints. The procedures he discussed are new, non-surgical alternatives for people who are still having pain after trying natural methods to heal first. This was a great workshop because most surgeons like to do surgery. This was a surgeon discussing ways to help people avoid surgery. Modern medicine has realized that people want less invasive and more natural methods to healing. People are more educated than ever and they realize that just numbing something or cutting it out is not going to fix the problem!
This blog post is going to be about something the orthopedic surgeon said that I will never forget. He said, “The system is set up so that all roads lead to surgery.” He went on to explain that if you enter the medical system with a pain, the protocol is to prescribe muscle relaxers, pain killers or anti-inflammatories. Or in most cases, some combination of 2 or 3 of these. If this does not help someone to feel better then you continue the medications and start physical therapy. He said this is where the issues begin. Not because of physical therapy, but because of physical therapy while on medications. Taking these medications which interfere with your pain perception, your tissues are not in their normal states. Now you are doing these exercises that can be causing further damage, but you can’t feel it! The pain is there as a protective mechanism. If you can’t feel the pain you may be working beyond the limits that you should be. Therefore, this leads to more problems. If this fails, this is when you end up on the surgeon’s table.
I am writing about this because chiropractic offers a different route. We embrace the pain. We figure out why you are having pain and then work to correct that, not just merely cover it up. If you are looking to avoid surgery and get healthier without the use of medications, I am here for you!
Have you gone down this route that has led to surgery? Would you do it again? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.