Physical therapy vs. chiropractor: Key differences

Seeking relief from an injury or other musculoskeletal issue? Whether you have a particular condition like arthritis or you are experiencing a symptom like chronic pain without a clear cause, finding treatment is important. Addressing your condition can lead to relief from your symptoms and lasting wellness benefits. When looking for a solution to your condition, it is easy to get overwhelmed and confused by the options. Learning more about your options can help you make an informed decision.

Two approaches to musculoskeletal treatment you may know of are physical therapy and chiropractic care. Since both claim to address similar issues, they can seem similar. However, there are many key differences. If you are not sure whether you should go to a physical therapy clinic or a chiropractor, it is important to learn about how they differ. Understanding which approach can most effectively address your condition is essential. Learning more about your options can enable you to receive the kind of treatment you need.

Key differences between physical therapy and a chiropractor

  • Approach — Physical therapists and chiropractors differ in philosophy. Chiropractors tend to focus mainly on the spine. The spine is central to the nervous system. Because of this, chiropractors often have the opinion that issues throughout the body can be addressed through spinal adjustments. Physical therapy, on the other hand, is based on a holistic approach. A physical therapist considers the entire body and how different systems within it affect one another. Taking a holistic approach helps physical therapists identify and address the root cause of a condition.
  • Scope — Before making a decision, it is important to consider each potential provider’s scope of practice. Physical therapy covers a broad spectrum of conditions. A licensed physical therapist is trained to be an expert in a wide variety of health issues and treatments. Physical therapy specialties range from neurological disorders to women’s health. The wide scope of PT helps ensure that each patient can receive effective care. In comparison, the scope of chiropractic is relatively limited. Chiropractors focus primarily on spinal conditions (and joint issues to a lesser extent). The more narrow scope of chiropractic means it may not have the means to meet your needs.
  • Techniques — Chiropractic care centers on spinal adjustments. A chiropractor typically makes these adjustments with their hands. Common techniques include quick thrusts to specific joints or parts of the spine. Other techniques such as massage may be incorporated. That being said, spinal adjustments are the primary method of a chiropractor. With limited techniques at their disposal, a chiropractor may not be able to effectively treat your condition. Physical therapy is different. Physical therapists use an array of different evidence-based treatments. This can help them tailor comprehensive treatment plans for each patient.

Benefits of physical therapy over a chiropractor

  • Comprehensive care — Looking for comprehensive, holistic treatment? Physical therapy is an excellent option. Your physical therapist can integrate a diverse variety of treatments for well-rounded care. The benefits of physical therapy’s wide-ranging approach might begin before you even establish a treatment plan. When you see your physical therapist for the first time, you will get a thorough assessment. A comprehensive initial assessment can be crucial to identifying the source of any symptoms you experience. From diagnosis to recovery, the comprehensive nature of PT tends to offer many advantages.
  • Personalized treatment — Personalized treatment is a major benefit of physical therapy. As a patient with unique needs and goals, it is important that you receive treatment tailored to your specific circumstances. Your physical therapist can help address the particular challenges you face with a tailored treatment plan. Want to optimize your recovery with individualized treatment? Physical therapy is an ideal choice.
  • Professional collaboration — Effective health care relies on teamwork. When you receive treatment, it is important to establish a dialogue with your care providers. Collaboration is important to a lot of patients. Finding a provider who shares your priorities can lead to more enjoyable and productive care. Collaboration is a core aspect of physical therapy. Your physical therapist will work with you one-on-one to understand your condition and develop a treatment plan that works for you. Physical therapists also collaborate with physicians and other medical professionals. This can help ensure continuity of care between providers. As your treatment progresses, your feedback will be valued and incorporated into any modifications to your plan.

Experience the upsides of physical therapy at Excel PT

Choosing physical therapy over seeing a chiropractor? You can experience the benefits of PT for yourself at Excel Sports & Physical Therapy. With a dedicated and experienced staff, we are committed to helping you get the treatment that is right for you.

Call us or request an appointment today to learn more about the advantages of PT.