Doctor of Chiropractic vs. Physical Therapist – What’s the Difference?

Both a chiropractor and a physical therapist are licensed professionals who treat and manage chronic body pains, stiffness and discomforts through various treatment methods. While they do share the same goal of improving a person’s flexibility, mobility and quality of life through treatment, their treatment approaches may differ. 

A chiropractor can perform manipulations and adjustments to help the body heal while a physical therapist can help by performing stretches and exercises to improve mobility. 

Chiropractic Doctor

Chiropractic care treats conditions like neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sports injuries, backache, headaches and joint pain. A chiropractor will use traditional diagnostic testing to determine a diagnosis and provide a customized care plan specified to a person’s needs. Common treatments that a chiropractic doctor will recommend include therapeutic exercise and stretching, spinal traction, manual soft tissue therapy, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, ultrasound, diet and nutritional counseling and lifestyle modifications. Chiropractic care can be a long-term form of ongoing treatment which can help to support organ health, improve immune system health and improve range of motion.

A visit to a chiropractic doctor can differ from a physical therapist because generally a person will require a referral to seek treatment from a physical therapist. A chiropractic doctor does not require a referral and can offer an appointment for an initial evaluation where they will discuss any concerns or expectations and can provide testing such as x-rays to determine a diagnosis and the best plan of action. Lifelong chiropractic care can help ensure that the body can function optimally at all times!

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist focuses on restoring mobility, strength and function of the body and managing pain in ill or injured patients. Physical therapists also use therapeutic exercise and strength training, but therapists often aid in helping a patient recover from surgery, an injury or an accident. A therapist and their services are used as a short-term form of treatment. 

Physical therapists require a written referral from a doctor that documents a person’s diagnosis and need for physical therapy. They do not perform testing and rely on the referring doctor and patient information regarding the need for therapy. Once this has been provided, a physical therapist will create a therapy schedule. When a person has reached their physical therapy goals, they will be released from care and the care will come to an end.

We at North County Pain Relief put our patient’s health first and are devoted to providing exceptional medical care. We always take the time to answer any medical questions you may have and help to make sure your appointment times are convenient for you. If you have more questions about how a chiropractic doctor and a physical therapist differ or if you would like to schedule an initial evaluation, please feel free to contact our office at (314) 731-4201. We look forward to speaking with you about the long-term benefits that chiropractic care can provide and to help you get the care you deserve!