physical therapist vs chiropractor

Physical Therapist vs Chiropractor: What's the Difference?

And which is right for you? Have you pulled a muscle? Is your neck stiff? Maybe your hand is sore, or you're having difficulty walking because of lower back pain? 


If this is the case, it might be the right call for you to go and see a physical therapist or a chiropractor! But you might be asking yourself, 'which physician would be the best for me?'


When it comes to seeing either a physical therapist or a chiropractor, which one is the right fit for you?


Both professionals fall under the same umbrella of physical treatment and focus on relieving pain, tension, and skeletal misalignment. The way they approach your goal usually differs the most between both fields. 


Chiropractors

A chiropractor, by definition, is a healthcare professional focused on diagnosing and treating neuromuscular conditions with a strong focus on spinal manipulation. 


Physical Therapists

A physical therapist is also a healthcare professional specializing in diagnosing and treating physical abnormalities, such as muscle soreness or joint pain. 


With the same goal of improving physical mobility and muscle function, both healthcare professions are there to help you improve. The point of difference is how they treat you.


Both practitioners have different sets of approaches. Continue reading to explore what some of these approaches are!

Types of Chiropractors & their focus

A certified chiropractor traditionally focuses on spinal and joint manipulation. They pay close attention to the neurological system. They usually have you lying, standing, walking, or sitting to perform their visual and physical examinations using either their hands or specific tools. 


Treatments from chiropractors consist of “adjustments” to your spine and joints using push, pull, pressing, and rotating techniques. Chiropractors treat various conditions, including muscle pain, back pain, joint pain, sciatica, neck issues, headaches, and other neurological conditions.


There are two main types of chiropractors - Musculoskeletal Chiropractors and Wellness Chiropractors. 

Musculoskeletal Chiropractors

Musculoskeletal Chiropractors focus on relieving pain from underlying conditions, such as back pain. Musculoskeletal chiropractors provide short-term relief for symptoms but don’t necessarily treat the root cause of the problem. However, if you’re after short-term relief, a musculoskeletal chiropractor would be perfect for you.

Wellness Chiropractors

A Wellness Chiropractor has a different focus which is on subluxations. A subluxation can be defined as a partial dislocation of any number of bones. Wellness chiropractors focus on realigning and reconnecting subluxated joints and bones to help reconnect the nervous system with the rest of the body. 


Above everything, the main focus of a chiropractor is to treat the spine and the nervous system. So how do they differ from physical therapists? Continue reading to find out!


Types of Physical Therapists & their focus

Physical therapists treat fractures, sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, amputations, arthritis, muscle soreness, and stiffness. 


They prescribe rehabilitative exercises to strengthen weak or underused muscles. Much like chiropractors, physical therapists focus on relieving pain and getting you back on your feet! But what do they actually do?


Depending on your condition, a general examination from a physical therapist can include a posture examination, a movement and flexibility examination, a history of health assessment, and a rehabilitation plan. 


Different physical therapists, however, have different approaches in mind. Let’s explore some of these different types of physical therapists.

Orthopedic Physical Therapists

Orthopedic physical therapists look at treating injuries of the musculoskeletal system. Sprains, tendonitis, fractures, and other chronic medical conditions are what they focus on. 

Geriatric Physical Therapy

Our body becomes more prone to wear and tear with age. Arthritis, joint pain, and even Alzheimers can affect your motor skills. Geriatric physical therapists can help older patients alleviate pain, help with hip replacement surgery and also help to restore balance. 

Neurological Physical Therapy

Neurological physical therapy focuses on the nervous system. This type of therapy helps patients suffering from cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's' by treating immobility, balance, and paralysis. 

Which one’s right for you?

There are benefits to seeing both Chiropractors & Physical Therapists, but deciding on which one to see depends on your issue or focus. 


Chiropractors are focused on spinal alignment, the nervous system, short-term pain relief, and subluxation assessments. 


Physical therapists have a similar focus on pain relief and treatment, but their focus isn’t so much on the spine. Always make sure to talk to a health professional before seeking treatment to make sure that you’re making the right decision!

Get In Touch With Us Today

If you’d like personal 1:1 care or want to learn more, please contact us at (410) 946-1672, or click here. We’ll get you in touch with one of our dedicated professionals. At True Sports Physical Therapy, your health is always front of mind! It’s our mission to help you get off the sidelines and back on your feet in the fastest and safest way possible.


When Can You Return to Sports After an ACL Injury?

Read more

Shoulder Injuries are Common in Golfers

Read more

3 Common Upper Body Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes and How to Avoid Them

Read more

Knee Weakness: Get Relief + Build Strength with These 3 Home Exercises

Read more

What Can Athletes Do About Quad Shut Down?

Read more

Does Strength Prevent Injury?

Read more

True Sports Coronavirus Response

Read more

Lacrosse Injuries – The 5 Most Common with 7 Tips to Prevent them

Read more

Exercising While Wearing a Mask: Common Misconceptions

Read more

Why Elite Community Servants Need Physical Therapy STAT

Read more

Training with a CrossFit Physical Therapist Helps Avoid Common Injuries

Read more

One Major Tip for Making Your Diet a Success

Read more

The 7 Biggest Benefits of Physical Therapy

Read more

Overtraining: 7 Symptoms and What You Can Do About It Today

Read more

Dry Needling Therapy, Blood Flow Restriction, & Cupping: Does It Work for Athletes?

Read more

Shouldering the Blame for Shoulder Pain: Arthritis or Bursitis?

Read more

Why There is No Such Thing as an Off Season

Read more

Recovering from Spinal Surgery: What You Need to Know

Read more

How to Treat the Most Common Sports-Related Shoulder Injuries

Read more

The Cold Hard Facts About ACL Tear Risk Factors

Read more

Improve Your Running Form with These 8 Tips

Read more

How to Handle a Sports-Related Knee Injury

Read more

What’s Up With Barefoot Running?

Read more

How to Prevent Shoulder Impingement as an Overhead Athlete

Read more

Physical Therapy Guide for Hamstring Injuries

Read more

Knee Injuries from Soccer: Preventing Them with 3 Knee Strengthening Exercises

Read more

Gait Analysis – A Runner’s Secret Weapon Against Injury

Read more

Maximizing Your Post Injury Outcomes

Read more

4 Tips to Avoid Knee Injuries While Skiing

Read more

Don’t Let Lower Back Pain Keep You Off the Links

Read more

The Most Common Lacrosse Injuries

Read more

How Long Will My Physical Therapy Take?

Read more

The Unsung Hero of Pain Management: Nutrition

Read more

Care and Feeding of Pitchers in the Off-Season

Read more

What Can I Expect After Rotator Cuff Surgery?

Read more

3 Ways You Can Prevent Knee Injuries and Weakness

Read more

Experiencing Pain? See a Physical Therapist First

Read more

Can Athletes Benefit from Hip Arthroscopy?

Read more

High School Sports After the COVID-19 Pandemic: Returning Safely to the Game

Read more

Dry Needling: 6 Benefits To Help You Relieve Body Pain & Soreness In 1-2 Days

Read more

The Importance of a Strong Core

Read more

Golf Injuries – The 5 Most Common with 3 Tips & Stretches

Read more

Why Do We Need Sleep? (And More to the Point — How Do We Get It?)

Read more

What Athletes Need for the Ultimate Sports PT Facility

Read more

How You Can Avoid Germs at the Gym

Read more

An Awesome Inforgraphic About Lower Back Pain and Sports

Read more

How Common are Shoulder Injuries in Athletics?

Read more

Cupping Therapy: 4 Benefits & How It Can Relieve Pain Within 48 Hours

Read more

Strengthen Your Biceps With These 5 Home Workouts

Read more

7 Workout Mistakes Your Physical Therapist Doesn’t Want You to Make

Read more

Why You Should Go to Physical Therapy

Read more

Why True Sports Physical Therapy is Right For You

Read more

Is It An Ache or Am I Injured?

Read more

Groin Strains Symptoms and Treatments

Read more

Are You Ready for Golf Season?

Read more

How Athletes Avoid Knee Injuries When Competing, Practicing, Training or Working Out

Read more

How to Relieve Lower Back Pain as an Athlete

Read more

Quick Tips for Staying Motivated

Read more

Relieve Muscle Soreness With These 5 Tips

Read more

How Baseball Players Can Reduce Their Risk of UCL Injury

Read more

Cupping Therapy Relieves Pain and Encourages Healing

Read more

Physical Therapist vs Chiropractor: What's the Difference?

Read more

Some Thoughts Before Football Season

Read more

High School Sports Injuries

Read more

Is Blood Flow Restriction Training Right for You?

Read more

Staying Limber During Your Internship

Read more

What Athletes Should Know About Tendinopathy In the Shoulder

Read more

Meal Planning Tips for High School Athletes

Read more

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture: What’s The Difference?

Read more

What are Achilles Tendon Conditions Signs and Symptoms?

Read more

How to Relieve Sciatica Pain with Physical Therapy

Read more

How to Deadlift and Squat without Risking Lower Back Injury

Read more

Preventing the Most Common Lacrosse Injuries

Read more

Graston Technique 101

Read more

Is Stress Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

Read more

Get Knee Pain Relief With These 3 Stretches

Read more

Advice You Need to Train for a Marathon in 2021

Read more

Impact of Correct Posture on Sports Performance

Read more

The Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle – Enough To Get You Moving

Read more

Make Your Outpatient Rehab Count

Read more

Relieve Back Pain Fast In 5 Ways

Read more

5 Tips to Improve & Maximize Your Athletic Performance

Read more

Physical Therapy: Why It’s Important Both Before and After Surgery

Read more

Is Elbow Arthritis Ruining Your Game?

Read more

Working from Home Shouldn’t Be a Pain in the Neck — or Back

Read more

Dry Needling Can Accelerate Recovery for Athletes

Read more

Join Volo City & Build Community Through Your Favorite Sport

Read more

Tips for Avoiding Running Injuries

Read more

6 Ways a Physical Therapist Can Enhance Your Running Performance

Read more

Attending Physical Therapy During COVID-19: Is It Safe?

Read more

Resistance Training is Important

Read more

Benefits of Sport Specific Rehabilitation

Read more

Benefits of Training with a Strength Coach

Read more

Sign up to our Newsletter

Get appointment updates, practical and actionable health + fitness tips, blog news, and True Sports announcements delivered straight to your inbox. No spam.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.