What Is The Difference Between a Chiropractor and a Physical Therapist?

Feb 9, 2021

What Is The Difference Between a Chiropractor and a Physical TherapistIt is not uncommon for patients to see both physical therapists and chiropractors when they have suffered an injury or need to recover from surgery. Because both providers often treat similar conditions, many people do not understand if there is a difference. This can lead people to make the wrong decision about who to visit and when. While both physical therapists and chiropractors in Marietta, GA work together, there are some key differences between the two disciplines. Read on to better understand each provider’s specialty and how they can help you recover.

What Physical Therapists Do

A physical therapist, also known as a physiotherapist or a PT, is focused on improving your body’s ability to move and function painlessly, boosting your quality of life, especially after an injury or surgery. A PT’s goal is to help you achieve the highest level of movement to allow you to function optimally in daily life.

When you visit a physical therapist, they will evaluate your symptoms or injuries and create a plan of guided stretches and exercises to help you work towards your goal. They also provide education and support to help you lead an active and healthy lifestyle moving forward.

In some cases, a few sessions with a PT will be needed before you begin to notice an improvement. Physical therapy is generally done over a stretch of time to help the body heal properly and you will work with your provider to evaluate your progress and goals between sessions.

What Chiropractors Do

Like PTs, a chiropractor also uses a hands-on approach to healing, but their focus is on easing pain and inflammation by using manual manipulation techniques. Chiropractors follow the philosophy that the body is able to heal itself with the non-invasive intervention of a chiropractor. Rather than using medications or surgeries, chiropractors and PTs alike focus on natural and manual methods of healing.

Chiropractic care focuses on the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine, as the mechanism for healing the rest of the body. The most common method of care is chiropractic adjustments, in which the spine is manually manipulated to realign the vertebrae and promote better functioning in the body.

While many people visit chiropractors in Marietta, GA after an accident or injury, it can also be used as preventative or long-term wellness care. Multiple sessions are usually needed to see results and keeping the spine in alignment is an ongoing process.

Similarities and Differences

As you can see, there is some crossover between physical therapists and chiropractors. They have similar goals and philosophies on care. Here are some ways that they may be similar in their approach:

  • Both use their hands and manual techniques to treat conditions
  • Both focus on the management of pain and discomfort with non-invasive and non-surgical techniques
  • Both treat many of the same conditions
  • Both care about general wellness plans for patients outside of the office
  • Both are interested in your health history and environment to determine the root cause of issues
  • Both are licensed professional health providers with extensive education and training

However, there are ways in which the two providers are different as well. Some key differences include:

  • The goal of PT is to restore pain-free movement, while chiropractic care focuses on misalignments of the spine and pain relief through adjustments.
  • PT focuses on how the body moves and functions as a whole while chiropractic usually focuses primarily on the spine, neck, joints, legs, or arms.
  • A chiropractor will perform manipulations and adjustments to heal your body and a physical therapist helps you perform stretches and exercises to improve mobility.
  • Chiropractors may require specialized equipment, while PTs can generally practice in any environment.

Neither practice is better or worse; they may simply meet different needs and goals.

Who Should I Visit?

So the big question now is, what doctor or specialist should you see after an accident or injury? The first factor that should impact what type of provider you see is your specific need and injuries. However, in many cases, a combination of both forms of treatment is the best option. AICA Marietta offers both physical therapists and chiropractors in Marietta, GA under one roof. In addition, our practice includes specialists like neurologists and orthopedists as well to create comprehensive care plans. No matter your injury or goals, AICA Marietta will complete a thorough evaluation of your needs and goals and assign a care team to your case. For the best of both worlds, contact AICA Marietta today to gain access to our expert chiropractors and physical therapists alike.