Chiropractor vs Physical Therapy: What You Should Use for Back Pain

chiropractor vs physical therapy

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting nearly 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Maybe your job requires you to be staring at a computer all day, or there’s lots of heavy lifting involved. Whatever your situation, back pain is never pleasant for anyone. If you’re in pain and are looking for help, it’s good to know what’s the best plan of attack to start feeling better. 

Pain can range from a dull, constant ache to sudden, sharp pains. The good news is there are proven treatments that are available to get you feeling your best. There are two common solutions. You may first think let me see a chiropractor or that someone referred you to a physical therapist, but do you know the difference, and are you seeking the proper form of treatment? 

First, let’s distinguish what the difference is between a visit to the chiropractor vs physical therapy. 

Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapy- What’s the difference? 

The difference between chiropractic care and physical therapy can seem to be negligible, but there are key differences. While both are licensed professionals that can manage back pain as a result from injury, the approach to treatment can vary. 

Chiropractors primarily focus on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, including joints, muscles, tendons, and functions. Treatment generally consists of spine alignment and manipulation to help reduce pain and inflammation. Additional therapies can be performed such as electric stimulation, spinal decompression, laser, and more. 

On the other hand, physical therapy focuses on the restoration of strength, mobility, and body function through suggested exercises, postures, hands-on manipulation, and alternatives to help avoid injury and pain. To make it simple, physical therapists help patients relearn skills lost due to pain or injury. 

Back Pain- How can I get relief from either Chiropractic or Physical Therapy? 

Now that you understand how each differs, now we can dive in to understand which treatment option for your back pain works best for you. Both chiropractors and physical therapists can help you reduce back pain and make improvements to help solve your issues.

The biggest difference between the two is that chiropractic care can provide immediate pain relief and restore healthy function to the spine, whereas physical therapy generally focuses on more long-term health goals by teaching patients how to manage their condition to help prevent the reoccurrence of the pain being felt. Their goal is to improve physical function so that the cause of your problem is solved, instead of just treating symptoms. Chiropractic care can also improve posture and sleep habits.

I understand the difference, which should I choose? 

Some may think that one choice better suits their needs versus the other. It is totally up to you to decide what treatment option works best for you. The truth is both chiropractic care and physical therapy could be the treatment plan for you. The two options can work hand in hand to help your reach optimal health. 

The question that should be asked many times is not which should be used, but rather when they should be most effectively used. Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to use every tool at your disposal to get you feeling at your best. 

What education is required of the practitioner? 

Both professions require licensure and certifications. Physical therapists receive their Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from an accredited PT school and pass a national licensure exam to practice. Physical therapists require annual continuing medical education to maintain their license. 

Chiropractors are very similar in their education path and receive their Doctorate of Chiropractic (DC) from an accredited chiropractic school. In addition, chiropractors must also pass a national board exam, and get a license in the state in which they plan to practice.  Yearly continuing education is also required to maintain licensure. 

I’ve made my choice, how long until I’m seeing lasting results? 

Chiropractic adjustments can help patients feel immediate relief the moment they start getting adjusted. Visits to the chiropractor can continue over a designated treatment plan and are generally around 10-30 minutes per visit depending on what adjustments or therapies are performed. Adjustments, either hands-on or with instrumentation are performed in the office. 

A visit to a physical therapist is more focused on designing a treatment plan to improve long-term functionality. Physical therapists dig into the root of your problem and then walk you through exercises to help regain function and reduce pain over time. Treatment programs for physical therapy can last for a few weeks or several months and can 30-60 minutes sessions with a therapist in addition to an at-home care plan. 

Start Fixing Your Back Problems Today with Team Chiro

Anyone can crack a back, neck, or knuckles. However, only a spinal engineer can truly fix the spinal issues you are facing and generate the greatest long-term relief. At Team Chiropractic, our team of qualified spinal engineers works hard to create a custom treatment plan according to what your body needs for long-term restoration. 

With over 25 years of service, we are the leading spinal adjustment practice in the Raleigh area and are uniquely suited to help relieve your back pain through safe, professional spinal adjustment. Our Certified Chiropractic Extremity Practitioners (CCEP) and Certified Chiropractic Sports Physicians (CCSP) enables us to correct the overall biomechanics, which enables you to hold your correction. 

We believe in the six essentials to healthy living: spiritual/mental alignment, physical alignment, nutritional alignment, exercise in alignment, rest in alignment, and removing chemical stress. By offering both services and products that adhere to the six essentials, we help promote an overall health and wellness treatment for every client who comes through our doors. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing disc related issues or is looking for neck or low back pain relief in Raleigh, we are here to help! Contact us online today or give us a call at 919-788-8881 to schedule your initial appointment and x-ray. We look forward to helping restore your health.


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