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San Diego Physical Therapists vs. Chiropractors

Oftentimes patients coming to physical therapy ask us the question, “What’s the difference between a chiropractor, a physical therapist; and who do I see for the problem I have?”

Chiropractor: A chiropractor is a health care profession that diagnoses, treats and assists in the prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine, as theoretically these disorders affect a patient’s general health via the nervous system.

A chiropractor’s purpose is to restore function and stability to the spine. This is done by realigning the vertebrae in a patient’s spine by manipulation. Releasing tension in the spine allows for muscles to be relaxed and thus relieving pain associated with the misalignment. With correct alignment of the spine, it allows the brain and nervous system to talk to every part of your body which promotes better movement and balance.

Physical therapist: A physical therapist is a health professional that evaluates diagnoses and provides treatment to individuals in order to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and function throughout life.

Components of movement and function evaluated by a physical therapist include: strength, range of motion, flexibility, balance, posture, body mechanics, coordination, endurance and general mobility; such as walking, stair climbing and getting in and out of a chair or bed. Physical therapists scope of practice ranges from orthopedic, neurological, chronic conditions, aging, and sports injuries. Physical therapists also learn some manipulation techniques to help with alignment and loosening of tight joints.

Both types of health care professionals provide valuable services that are necessary for one’s overall health, wellness and quality of life. Many times, both services are valuable to a patient having pain. It is important not only for the spinal alignment to be correct, the patient must also balance out any muscular tension or weakness to allow the joints to remain aligned. In physical therapy sessions, the physical therapist will evaluate you to determine joint tightness and muscle imbalances. Physical therapists and chiropractors should work together to make sure that the patient receives the maximum recovery.

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