Differentiating Between Physical Therapists, Massage Therapists, and Chiropractors
Are chiropractors physical therapists? What about massage therapists? Chances are that these questions have crossed your mind if you have ever wondered which professional to pay a visit for your recurring back pain. In actuality, however, your choice would depend on the kind of pain you have.
The difference between a chiropractor and a physical therapist
A physical therapist’s primary concern is to help a person regain control over injured or weakened limbs. The job of a chiropractor, on the other hand, focuses on fixing problems that originate at a person’s spine that affects their health and well-being. The difference is glaring as you can see that a chiropractor works within a more comprehensive field. While a chiropractor can employ a physical therapist’s techniques, it doesn’t work the other way around as a physical therapist’s field of specialization is narrower than that of a chiropractor.
Because of the breadth of expertise a chiropractor has, some states such as Connecticut and North Carolina have designated doctor of chiropractors (DCs) as primary-care providers (PCPs). This designation is a recognition of chiropractors’ capacity and skills to provide preventive care, identify and treat common medical conditions such as back pain, and make referrals, that is at par with their medical doctor (MD) counterparts such as family practitioners and internists. In comparison, physical therapists are not considered PCPs.
Nevertheless, both chiropractors and physical therapists are legally authorized to make diagnoses of illnesses and pain. In fact, a person with a doctor physical therapist (DPT) degree has finished some of the prerequisite courses required in a DC program, which means they can study in chiropractic school and become a DC at the same time.
The difference between a chiropractor and a massage therapist
While a chiropractor may employ massage techniques, that doesn’t mean that a massage therapist can practice chiropractic. For one, chiropractors are doctors while massage therapists are not, which means massage therapists can’t diagnose health problems or injuries. Another difference is the focus area. Massage therapists only deal with muscle pain, while chiropractors also deal with other causes of pain other than muscle pain including that of the spine, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and bones. If you’re only looking for a quick relaxing rubbing-down, you can go to a massage therapist near you, but if you’re looking for pain treatment, you need to go to a chiropractor. You should also remember that while insurance can cover a chiropractor’s massage, the same does not apply for your spa relaxation massage.
Health problems that a chiropractor can and should handle
Now that you know the basic differences between these three professionals, the next thing you need to know is what kinds of health problems you can have a chiropractor treat. One health problem that a chiropractor can help you with is alignment and posture problems. People usually don’t realize that they can get injured from standing, sitting, laying down, jumping, or moving at the wrong posture. Wrong posture is a spinal problem, which falls under the expertise of a chiropractor. A chiropractor can help a person correct the improper posture to prevent injuries in the future.
Because of their holistic understanding of how posture and spinal problems affect a person’s performance, a chiropractor can help you come up with a workout that fits your body’s characteristics. Exercises aren’t “one-size-fits-all” fitness schemes. It should be tailored to challenge your body to the extent that you don’t risk injury. This kind of approach to exercise and fitness that chiropractors have made famous athletes such as Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo include chiropractors in their respective sports performance management teams.
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