Chiropractor vs physical therapist? Which strategy will help you heal faster, eliminate pain, and recover more completely? It’s one of the most common questions we are asked at Team Rehab and the answer is, well, a bit tricky. Read on to learn:
- why chiropractic care alone can leave you with lingering aches and pain,
- answers to top faq’s about chiropractor vs physical therapist care, and
- misconceptions about physical therapy that are preventing you from seeking care NOW.
Misconceptions About Physical Therapy
- People still feel like they have to get a referral to get a physical therapist – this actually hasn’t been the case for decades. You do NOT need a referral for physical therapy.
- I can’t get physical therapy because I haven’t been injured. Even if you randomly develop pain in your body for any reason at all, you can see a physical therapist.
FAQs – Chiropractor vs Physical Therapy
What is the difference between a physical therapist and a chiropractor?
There’s a lingering misconception that physical therapists are not actual doctors, but that’s simply not true. Both physical therapists and chiropractors are doctors.
The biggest difference between seeking treatment from a chiropractor vs physical therapist is the approach to treatment.
Chiropractic care shines when treating structural issues that involve the skeleton. Imbalances can occur from chronic overuse, acute injury, lifestyle factors or trauma from workplace injuries or a car accident. When the skeletal structure is out of alignment the body is not able to properly heal.
Physical therapy is recommended when soft tissue is involved, whether it be muscle tension, tightness, swelling, or weakness. When this occurs, manual therapy techniques, mobilization, massage, and prescriptive exercises can be used to heal the body.
Our Team Rehab centers are the only centers in the greater Portland area that combines both of these methods when evaluating and creating individualized treatment plans for our patients.
We have both a physical therapist AND chiropractor present TOGETHER during your evaluation and consultation of your recommended treatment.
Is physical therapy better than chiropractic care?
In over 30 years of experience, we’ve never seen a soft tissue injury that doesn’t have an underlying structural joint condition or dysfunction issue. And we’ve never seen a structural issue that isn’t affect the health of soft tissue.
Bottom line, both of these can impact and contribute to pain and overall dysfunction. Over and over, we’ve seen patients that received either chiropractic treatment alone or physical therapy alone that are just not getting better. This occurs because both the skeletal and soft tissue problems aren’t being addressed together.
Combining both of these treatments at the same time greatly increases the chances of proper skeletal alignment, soft tissue recovery, and elimination of pain.
Can physical therapists and chiropractors work together?
Yes! In fact, we’ve seen the best outcomes and the greatest chance of full recovery increase when both physical therapists and chiropractors work together.
Sometimes receiving just chiropractic care means the soft tissue weakness isn’t addressed and with physical therapy alone structural issues aren’t addressed. The two work synergistically. At Team Rehab, during your consultation, we make sure that both one of our chiropractors and physical therapists are present at the same time during your evaluation to recommend a comprehensive treatment plan. We also have a medical doctor onsite that can evaluate pain and help manage medication for patients.
Can physical therapists perform manipulation like chiropractors?
Yes. Each state has licensing rules and regulations that guide what is in the scope of practice for physical therapists. In the state of Oregon, for example, a physical therapists can perform manipulations similar to chiropractic adjustments. There might be differences in technique and style.
Did you know that the word adjustment is a chiropractic term that was coined decades ago? You might not know that other doctors, such as doctors of osteopathy, naturopaths, physical therapists can perform manipulations or use that type of technique.
How Does My Health Insurance Treat a Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist?
Everyone’s health insurance benefit coverage varies plan to plan. But we’ve found 9 out of 10 people have both chiropractic benefits as well as physical therapy benefits. Many people are surprised to learn that health insurance covers chiropractic care and almost always covers physical therapy because it falls under the traditional medical model of treatment.
In addition, many people have massage and acupuncture benefits that they aren’t aware of.