Chiropractic Care vs. Physical Therapy

woman receiving medical care

Chiropractors and physical therapists both help patients recover from injuries. However, they use very different techniques to heal you.

Call us at 360-260-6903 if you are unsure which type of care might be best for you. We offer a free chiropractic consultation!


Doctors of Chiropractic, also called chiropractors or chiropractic physicians, focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Chiropractors primarily treat back, neck, and joint pain, and headaches. When you have an adjustment, you are releasing pressure between subluxations, or two vertebras that came out of alignment.

Your musculoskeletal pain is originating from the nerve tension that the subluxations are creating. This creates a direct relief on your nervous system, which controls and communicates pain, pleasure, and creates reactions.

The chiropractor’s goal is to alleviate any pain in the nerves which could be projecting discomfort through the rest of the body. Chiropractic adjustments can align the spine, therefore every cell, muscle, and organ in your body.

Most of us underestimate chiropractors thinking they only treat back and neck pain.  A trained chiropractic physician can restore joint mobility and relieve muscular tightness. He or she can help you with sleep problems, headaches, stress, and other health problem connected to the nervous system.

What to Expect During a Chiropractic Appointment

Your chiropractor begins with a thorough health screening to understand your injury. This could include X-rays or just a detailed questionnaire with past diseases and disorders in you and your family, and the history of your injury.

The chiropractor then has you stand, sit, or lay on a chiropractic table to make the manipulation. Your manipulation is swift and quick.

It is normal to hear a popping sound from the release of gases. The chiropractor will continue a series of appointments until you feel long-term relief and your vertebras have strengthened in the aligned position.

Physical Therapist

Physical Therapists, or PTs, are medical professionals who diagnose, evaluate, and restore maximum movement in the body. You could have a limited range of movement for a number of reasons.

Physical therapy uses low impact conditioning, stretching, and other hands-on techniques that work with your sensitive muscle tissues and joints. Many patients are victims of injury, aging, or disease.

More than 750,000 people in the United States go to physical therapy each day. Many of these people would be disabled without their help. For example, if you were in a car accident and suffered serious trauma in your lower extremities, a physical therapist can help teach you to walk again.

A physical therapist is usually affiliated with a hospital, school, outpatient clinic, or home health care provider.

What to Expect During a Physical Therapy Appointment

Your physical therapist’s thorough examination process can help ensure that they improving your muscular system. The initial visit is similar to visiting a chiropractor.

Your PT learns as much as possible about your injury with a review of your health history, physical examination, and tests.

The tests will help identify your current and potential problems. Your PT will then develop a treatment plan to help you restore mobility and function.

When to Get Chiropractic versus Physical Therapy

Chiropractors and physical therapists’ individual techniques are not appropriate for every injury. To know which type of care to seek, you and the medical professionals have to understand your goals.

A chiropractor’s goal is to relieve your pain and mobility for minor and moderate injuries of the nervous system. Physical therapists can recover body mechanics for minor to severe injuries to the muscular system.

Occasionally, patients receive chiropractic care and physical therapy simultaneously.

For example, a professional football player is tackled during a game. He dislocates his shoulder and is experiencing intense back pain. A chiropractor can align the athlete’s spine to alleviate headaches, hip, shoulder, or other pains created by an irritated nervous system. The football player continues to visit the chiropractor annually to ensure that the spine stays in proper alignment. The physical therapist helps the football player regain functionality in the shoulder that was dislocated.

When to Visit a Chiropractor

In general, you should see a chiropractor for the issues listed below.

  • Neurological conditions, such as migraine headaches
  • Orthopedic conditions, such as neck, back, shoulder, and hip pain
  • Joint and soft tissue injuries, such as muscle strains, whiplash, and sports injuries
  • Repetitive stress injury, such as sitting without proper back support

When to Visit a Physical Therapist

See a PT if you have these issues:

  • Orthopedic conditions such as low back pain or osteoporosis
  • Joint and soft tissue injuries such as fractures and dislocations
  • Neurological conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease
  • Workplace injuries including repetitive stress injuries and sports injuries


There are different types of care for any pain, disease or physical injury you may have. The trick is finding the care that works best for you.

Chiropractic has helped millions of people live pain-free from nervous system disorders, whereas physical therapy has helped victims of severe injuries to move again and regain full function of their body.

Sometimes, chiropractic care and physical therapy are combined to treat the nervous system while strengthening the muscles to keep the spine in alignment. Each form of care is valuable to improving your quality of life.

We offer a free consultation if you are considering chiropractic care, or just have more questions. Please call 360-260-6903.