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Chiropractors vs. Physical Therapists: Differences and How to Choose

Chiropractic vs. Physical Therapy

What does a Chiropractor do?

Historically, Chiropractors focused on neuromuscular disorders, utilizing chiropractic manipulations to realign the body and alleviate pain. They address issues like lower back pain, neck pain, sciatica, tension headaches, and dizziness through hands-on techniques and spinal adjustments. Chiropractors undergo extensive training to assess and treat spinal problems, offering a holistic approach that may include nutritional and lifestyle recommendations. Many modern Chiropractors, like those at KC Spine and Sport, will further utilize soft tissue and exercise treatments beyond chiropractic adjustments to help the patient recover faster.

What does a Physical therapist do?

Physical therapists concentrate on soft tissues and muscles, employing techniques like exercise, stretching, and mobilization to restore movement and improve quality of life. They work on improving strength, range of motion, and functional mobility through prescriptive exercises. Physical therapists have a holistic approach to treatment and often prescribe home exercise programs for daily improvement.

Similarities between a Chiropractor and a Physical therapist

  • Both are trained at a doctoral level.
  • Both may prescribe exercises to improve strength or range of motion.
  • Both use physical modalities like electrical stimulation or heat.
  • Both use non-surgical techniques to improve movement and alleviate pain.
  • Both must pass a board or licensing examination to practice.

Differences between a Chiropractor and a Physical therapist

  • Chiropractors often focus on spinal and other joint restrictions. Removing these restrictions helps patients to move better and following up this progress with targeted exercises helps to keep patients feeling better. Physical therapists generally focus more on mobilizations through stretching and exercise to get patients better.
  • Chiropractors may offer nutrition advice and sell dietary supplements, whereas physical therapists work on preventing injuries and prescribe home exercise programs.
Which is better?

There really is no “better” option. Your choice will be slightly influenced by the type of injury, but more so by the types of Chiropractic and Physical Therapy practitioners available to you. Both Chiropractors and Physical Therapists can tackle most musculoskeletal injuries with people generally seeking Chiropractic for spine related pains, and seeking Physical Therapists for post-surgical rehab or at the request of a Medical Doctor.

FAQ about Chiropractic Care and Physical Therapy

Are Chiropractors and physical therapists Doctors?

Both are subject matter experts but do not hold a medical doctor classification (MD). Chiropractors are Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) and many Physical Therapists are Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT).

How many sessions are required?

Both chiropractic care and physical therapy require multiple sessions, varying based on the complexity of the problem and the patient's natural recovery speed.

Are there any side effects of physical therapy and chiropractic care?

Both may have physical side effects like slight pain, soreness, bruising, or swelling, usually subsiding within a few days.

Concluding Thoughts

Both chiropractic care and physical therapy offer non-invasive approaches to relieve pain and improve mobility. The choice between the two should consider the specific nature of the injury, associated costs, and types of practitioners available to you.

If you are experiencing pain from an injury or general aches from everyday life reach out to us at KC Spine and Sport and see how we can help you move better and feel better. KC Spine and Sport is your premier Chiropractor in Overland Park and Kansas City.

Visit the following page to learn more about the benefits of chiropractic care: "How We Help"

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February 27, 2024
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Dr John McNeely - KC Spine and Sport- Overland Park, KS

Dr. John McNeely

Dr. John McNeely holds a Bachelor's in Organismal Biology and a Doctorate of Chiropractic, with extensive training in various therapeutic techniques. After practicing in Europe and specializing in athletic rehab in Arizona, he founded KC Spine and Sport in Kansas City to provide top-level care for all.