Chiropractor Vs Physical Therapist: The Ultimate Guide

Running and sport ankle sprain injury

Last Updated on April 4, 2024

Physical therapists and chiropractors strive to meet one goal for their patients: to help them live a pain-free life. However, they achieve these goals by different methods. Here are a few ways chiropractors and physical therapists can work to help their patients.

These Professionals Share Similar Goals

While some aspects of the job are different, they focus on similar methods. Both professionals help patients to manage pain by employing non-surgical and noninvasive techniques. They may use hands-on or manual therapy as a treatment option for specific conditions. A chiropractor or physical therapist will also create a wellness plan that a patient can follow when they are not at the office.

If you visit these facilities, you will have to give information about your health history. They may even perform a physical exam or order a test. Along with that, chiropractors and physical therapists are licensed health professionals with years of training and education.

Related: Average Chiropractor Costs Based on Location

Key Differences of These Professions

There are a few differences in these professions. Physical therapists want patients to have pain-free movement. They also focus on the entire health of the body and study how it moves.

Through exercises and stretches, the physical therapist will help to improve your flexibility. You will find a physical therapist in almost all types of healthcare environments. Many of these professionals even come to your home to perform exercises and stretches.

Now that you know about a physical therapist’s job, here are a few things to know about a chiropractor.

Like physical therapists, they also focus on pain relief, especially those affected by the misalignment of the spine. Most of their pain relief methods are connected to issues with the neck, back, and joints. In some cases, they can help patients get relief from headache issues.

To help with pain, the chiropractor performs a set of adjustments and manipulations to your body. Some of these adjustments include helping to readjust the alignment of your spine. These professionals often work out of a medical office to perform their patients’ care.

Looking for the best chiropractor in Portland? Inner Gate Acupuncture performs a variety of services, including chiropractic, naturopathic, massage therapy, physical therapy, and acupuncture. 

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

A physical therapist is often known as a PT. They work to help their patients move without pain. With that, the patient can lead a better quality of life. The PT will help those patients achieve a high level of movement to function in their daily lives.

These professionals will examine you and provide guidance through exercises and stretches. Along with that, they will educate you on how to stay healthy to lead an active lifestyle.

Some of these treatment options include:

  • Flexibility, pain, and movement evaluations

  • Providing stretches, exercises, and manipulation that can help the patient get stronger

  • Give information on how to avoid future injuries or pain

  • Use cold or heat therapy to help reduce pain

  • Create a wellness plan for their patients.

Many patients only need a few sessions before noticing an improvement in their body. In some cases, the patient might require long-term physical therapy to help with pain management. With a professional physical therapist, the patient can chart their progress and create a treatment plan.

Physical therapy is an ideal option for:

  • Increasing movement from an injury, accident, health condition, or surgery

  • Maintaining or increasing the ability to move

  • Reducing any pain related to specific movements

  • Building strength in the body

  • Reducing symptoms of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and COPD.

Physical therapists might also focus on one specific demographic, such as older adults or children. In some cases, they may only focus on a particular physical ailment, like sports injuries or other health conditions.

A therapist massaging a woman’s knee

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

These health professionals are licensed providers with a doctorate degree. Like physical therapists, they also use a hands-on approach to help ease inflammation and pain. They will manipulate parts of your body to help with pain management.

Like physical therapy, chiropractors do not rely on surgical or medication options. If you have issues with your physical health, you may want to visit a chiropractor before taking invasive treatments.

Chiropractors can help people with several conditions, especially those in the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. When you visit the chiropractor, you can expect the professional to:

  • Perform a physical test and exam

  • Provide adjustment to some regions of the body, especially the spinal area

  • Discuss other treatment options

  • Recommend home exercises

You should choose a chiropractor if you have:

  • Neck pain

  • Back pain

  • Headaches

  • Joint pain

Related: What to Do When You Throw Your Back Out

Choosing the Right Therapy

There are a few things to consider if you are trying to decide between a physical therapist and a chiropractor. You need to choose suitable treatment options based on your specific health needs and conditions.

In some cases, you can use both a chiropractor and physical therapist to improve your quality of life and relieve any pain issues in your body. Before you decide, you might want to speak to your doctor. Your trusted medical professional can help you find a plan that may improve those nagging physical symptoms.

Related: Herniated Discs and Chiropractic Care

Male chiropractor massaging a young woman's neck in the medical

Find Relief for Your Body

Both chiropractic care and physical therapy focus on managing pain in their clients. They will use noninvasive techniques to relieve some of these symptoms. These professionals also may employ hands-on therapy to treat physical ailments.

However, a physical therapist will focus on the movements of the body. They work with you to use exercises that can help you move easily without any pain. For some conditions, they may use their hands to help with the healing process.

On the other hand, a chiropractor mainly focuses on the disorders of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. With a few adjustments and manipulations, the chiropractor can help the body to heal.

When you have pain, you want to find the right type of relief. You should always talk to your medical doctor to make the right choice for you.

Whether you need naturopathy or acupuncture, we are here to help you get back on the road to recovery. If you need the best chiropractor in Portland, reach out to the team at Inner Gate Acupuncture

1 thought on “Chiropractor Vs Physical Therapist: The Ultimate Guide”

  1. Eli Richardson

    It’s helpful to learn that a physical therapist is able to treat injuries. My dad got injured in a car accident a few days ago, but his recovery isn’t going as well as we thought. I think it’d be wise to try other treatments, so I’ll suggest we look for a PT. Thanks for the insight on receiving a treatment plan to remove pain.

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