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Differences Between a Chiropractor and a Physical Therapist

As physical therapists and chiropractors, we are all licensed health care professionals who help people with injuries or conditions that impact their musculoskeletal system. Both chiropractors and physical therapists use nonsurgical, drug-free treatment modalities to help their patients get relief. The two health professionals also share some similarities, such as focusing on helping their patients regain strength and mobility through their treatment methods.

But there are many key differences, including how they diagnose and treat their patients, as well as how they pay for the services they provide. It is important to understand these differences if you are considering becoming either a chiropractor or physical therapist, especially if you plan on using insurance.

Chiropractors treat neck and back problems and other joint issues. They have advanced degrees and are trained to manipulate the spine, which takes stress off of the nervous system that controls muscles, among other organs in the body. They can also prescribe exercises that will improve posture, balance and strength, as well as teach patients how to perform these exercises at home.

Physical therapists, on the other hand, focus on improving a patient’s chiropractor and physical therapist overall functional capacity and quality of life. They can treat a wide range of injuries and conditions. They often have a doctor’s referral before they see a patient, and their services are typically covered by insurance. They use exercise-based treatments, such as stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as a variety of other tools and techniques, such as heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, soft tissue mobilization and manual manipulations.

Whether you are seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist, it’s important to have a thorough evaluation and clear communication with your provider. You should feel comfortable asking questions and speaking up if your health care professional seems distracted or doesn’t spend enough time with you.

A chiropractor and a physical therapist can work together in a team to treat your injury or condition. They can also collaborate with your other healthcare providers, such as your primary care physician or orthopedic surgeon. This approach can ensure you get the best possible outcome for your injury or condition, allowing you to return to a healthy, active lifestyle.

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