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Chiropractic Care, Physiotherapy, or Massage Therapy?

By Donna Stark

Chiropractic Care and Massage

Pain from injury, disease, poor lifestyle habits, and chronic health conditions is a normal and common occurrence. Unfortunately, you may need to rely on a highly skilled healthcare professional to find relief from these issues at some point in your life. But how do you determine who will provide the correct treatment for your needs?

Although chiropractors, physical therapists, and licensed massage therapists all want to relieve pain and improve the overall function of the body, choosing who to see can be a bit confusing. Fortunately, each one has a very specific purpose that will help you decide on the right treatment for your individual needs. Here are some of the notable differences between the three.

When to See a Chiropractor

Chiropractors treat the body as a whole. They believe all bodily systems are connected and that optimal health begins with the spine. The chiropractic approach is generally recommended to those who are experiencing pain and discomfort caused by sports injuries, poor lifestyle habits, and chronic health conditions. For all of these issues, the goal of the treatment plan is to reduce pain, restore function, support speedy healing (or lessen the effects of any present dysfunction), and prevent injuries so the patient can lead a full and complete life. Chiropractors do this first by identifying the underlying issue of the problem and then targeting it with precise adjustments and spinal manipulation to restore full range of motion.

Here are just a few of the chronic pain issues chiropractors tend to treat.

  • Arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Elbow and wrist pain
  • Hip, knee, ankle and foot pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sciatica, scoliosis, and fibromyalgia
  • Repetitive motion and sports injuries

In addition to the health conditions listed above, chiropractic care can also improve overall health and wellness. How is that? Because a healthy body requires a healthy nervous system, and a healthy nervous system is dependent on a healthy spine. So, when the spine is placed in proper alignment and without restrictions along the spine, the function of the nervous system is restored; as a result, the patient’s overall well-being can be enhanced.


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Another way to think about it is that pain can affect your health beyond the location where you are feeling symptoms. For example, neck and back pain can make you toss and turn while trying to sleep, and the poor night of sleep negatively affects your mood the next day, or ability to focus at work, or ability to enjoy a hobby. It’s not surprising that many patients report an overall improved lift in health and quality of life when they are under chiropractic care that lessens or eliminates their aches and pains.

You may be thinking this sounds too good to be true, right? And you may be wondering if there’s a catch, or some unfavorable aspects associated with chiropractic care. Thankfully, there aren’t many, but two do come to mind.

The first one deals with soreness. Even though chiropractic care is known to bring quick relief and long-lasting results, you may still experience some soreness after an adjustment, so don’t be worried if that happens -- it should dissipate within 24 hours. Just be sure to talk to your chiropractor about any concerns you may have during your visit. Your doctor will do everything possible to increase your comfort. As a reminder, we don’t usually hit the panic button because we’re sore from an exercise workout, and that’s typically the kind of soreness that we’re talking about.

The second concern deals with the expense of chiropractic care. Although you may wish your chiropractic treatments were covered by insurance, keep in mind that one of the main reasons why so many people choose this approach at The Joint Chiropractic is that it eventually costs less than traditional medicine because it’s preventative in nature. That’s right! Chiropractic care is actually a great investment in your health! As a cash-only business, there’s never a need to hassle with insurance.

When to See a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists tend to focus their skills on those who are recovering from injuries caused by accidents and surgeries, or those with chronic disorders. The goal of their treatment plan is like that of chiropractic care, but their approach is quite different. This approach may include one or more of the following techniques.

  • Manual therapy
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Electrical stimulation and ultrasound
  • Laser therapy and traction

Another way physical therapy differs from chiropractic care is that it places more emphasis on the injured part of the body rather than treating the body as a whole. So, although you’ll feel better and will gain your lost function back, the state of your overall health and wellness is likely to remain the same.

When to See a Massage Therapist

A professional massage therapist utilizes several different techniques to treat both the patient’s physical and mental health. Like chiropractic care and physical therapy, you can expect an initial assessment before your massage begins so that painful areas can be targeted. However, massage therapy focuses only on the soft tissues and muscles in the body. Typically, the massage therapist will only use their hands and fingers, but don’t be surprised to see them utilizing their elbows, forearms, or even feet to get those knots out.

Massage therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety, encourage muscle relaxation, improve blood circulation, boost moods, and ease discomfort. Sometimes, pressure is placed on specific trigger points to alleviate pain in the body.

Finding Relief With the Right Treatment

When muscular or skeletal pain enters your life, it can be tricky to know exactly what type of treatment is needed to find relief and help your body heal. It can be even more confusing if you would like that treatment to be free of adverse and addictive side effects.

Fortunately, there are several effective options that can target pain to help people recover from discomfort. Yet chiropractic care will help your body heal itself and resolve issues at the root of the problem. More so than the other two, it will serve as a true preventative form of health care.

Although each is different, all have their role, and utilizing chiropractic care, physiotherapy, and massage therapy, you can rest assured knowing your health will be in good hands!

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