Physical Therapist vs. Chiropractor

Many patients are curious about the difference between these two health practitioners.

Chiropractors specialize in manipulating bone structure (such as the spine) to improve the function of the joints and or nervous system.  They are very well known for manipulating the spine to help decrease low back pain.  A lot of patients frequent a chiropractor’s office several times a year for many years to manage their ailments.  A chiropractor has an aggressive approach to treatment.

Physical Therapists specialize in treating injury or dysfunction with exercises, manual techniques, neuromuscular re-education, and postural re-education to improve function throughout life.  A patient will attend a physical therapist 2-3 times a week for on average 6 weeks to improve function/decrease pain and gain education on how to further these gains with independent exercise.  Physical Therapy is a conservative treatment option and one which should be used in the first line of defense against injury.

In my professional opinion, it is in the patient’s best interest to understand the difference between these two disciplines before choosing the treatment option that is appropriate.  With acute injury, one should first go to a physical therapist.  If the patient has tried physical therapy and finds they have not met their goals, then they should look into seeking a chiropractors services.  A chiropractor offers more of an aggressive approach to treatment by using manipulations so a lot of times this is inappropriate for an acute injury, such as a car accident, ankle sprain, sport injury, etc.

If you are unsure what type of discipline best suits you, feel free to contact Harbor Physical Therapy with questions.

Clinical Question – Postoperative

After orthopedic surgery, how long will it take me to feel “back to normal?”

There are many factors that go into healing and everyone heals at a different rate.  Typically, it takes about a year to feel “back to normal.”  After receiving surgery to one of your extremities and completing physical therapy, patients usually report continued swelling at the end of the day.  After surgery, patients report that swelling is the last symptom to decrease.  With any orthopedic surgery, patients will usually gain approximately 80-95% of their original function and strength.  However, this all depends on the success of surgery, if a revision was performed, and the overall outcome of physical therapy.