Millions of people suffer from back pain every day in fact, roughly 22 million visit a chiropractor every year, and many more seek additional or alternative forms of treatment elsewhere. In short, back and neck pain is a major issue.
Pain management often comes down to choosing the right form of recovery, treatment, and prevention. Two options that stand out are physical therapists and chiropractors, and while the Downtown Vancouver area has plenty of options in both camps, it’s important to understand the primary differences so you can choose the option that is best for you.
In understanding chiropractic and physical therapy, you can figure out exactly what type of treatment you should pursue. Talking to your primary care physician can certainly help as well, but the more you know, the more informed your final decision will be. The first step, before we compare the similarities and differences, is simply to look at what each discipline of medicine involves.
Chiropractors like Dr. Stuart Kilian at Advantage Chiropractic focus on providing pain relief, without drugs or surgery, through the manipulation and adjustment of the spine. By straightening the spine, adjusting it to proper symmetry, and adjusting any misplaced vertebrae, a chiropractor is able to provide pain relief to the back and neck and to combat issues including sciatica and other similar problems.
Physical therapy generally focuses on the use of exercise to help gradually return a body to proper levels of function. Repeated use, stretching exercises, muscle strengthening techniques, and other similar methods are the key steps within physical therapy, with the ultimate goal to reduce pain and restore mobility.
Comparing Chiropractic Care To Physical Therapy
Essentially, a chiropractor is a doctor who can diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses within the musculoskeletal system, while a physical therapist is a medical professional who helps patients recover after injury or illness with a focus on mobility and better function. The two types of medical professionals have the same basic goal in mind, and in some cases their methods may overlap. But there are plenty of differences and similarities to consider.
- Chiropractors focus on the spinal column and with straightening and adjusting it. While physical therapists will often work to ease joint and bone pain, the majority of their efforts focus on strengthening the muscles.
- Both options involve multiple sessions in order to get the best possible results.
- Chiropractors spend a total of 6 to 8 years in school with about 5,200 instructional hours required. Physical therapists spend roughly 7 years in school, with only 3,500 instructional hours spend earning their degree.
- Chiropractors generally help with all types of back and neck pain, from minor to very severe. Physical therapy is usually utilized when injuries have occurred that leave patients struggling to recover properly.
- Physical therapists do have a clear understanding of chiropractic care, though they will often utilize a variety of different techniques along with it.
- Both types of treatment also provide patients with self-care instructions including stretching exercises, better posture guidelines, and more.
In short, the two schools of medicine are very similar. Looking through the list above, it can seem as though one is just as good as the other, but for many people, going with a chiropractor makes more sense.
Why Choose Chiropractic Care?
So with so many similarities, it’s easy to get confused as to which option is the right one to pursue. For the most part, chiropractic is the more popular and the most commonly chosen option – for numerous reasons. If you’re not sure as to whether or not your situation would be helped more by a physical therapists or a chiropractor, consider the following reasons that highlight what chiropractic can offer.
- Chiropractic care is generally more affordable, involving a more flexible scheduling system and lower overall costs. It’s also covered under a growing number of health insurance plans.
- Chiropractors are close by, easier to get an appointment with, and able to work one on one with each patient in most cases. Some physical therapists work for hospitals or major medical groups, and as such don’t have the time to devote to individuals as frequently.
- In many cases, physical therapists are only used by those with serious injuries or illnesses and it’s common for them to be accessible only through a referral from a primary care physician. A chiropractor will see whomever needs their help without the need for a referral.
- Often, it’s chiropractic care that directly helps those with certain types of pain. Issues like pinched nerves or sciatica pain caused by herniated discs or misaligned vertebrae are helped immensely through chiropractic adjustments. Combining stretching and other similar methods of treatment and self-care can help as well, but it’s chiropractic care that drives forwards the relief patients usually need.
- Chiropractors believe in helping patients without the use of drugs or surgery. While physical therapists usually do as well, the devotion to a natural treatment is much more impressive with a chiropractor than most therapists.
Simply put, a chiropractor is easier to visit, more affordable in most cases, and provides direct relief to a number of issues that physical therapists may not be able to provide help with. They’re a vital part of pain management for millions, and visiting one could be just what you need as well.
Is Chiropractic Care Right For You?
The final question you need to ask yourself is simply whether or not chiropractic care is right for you. This isn’t an easy one to answer, but in general if you’re experiencing back or neck pain or stiffness, you may want to set up an appointment with your local chiropractor. They can perform an exam and make a diagnosis that could help you escape the pain and get your life back. You can also speak with your primary care physician if you like, but with chiropractic care so close by and readily available, it makes sense to check into it more completely first. There’s a good chance that your quality of life can be dramatically improve by visiting a chiropractor.