When pain happens, the immediate instinct is to do as much as possible to alleviate it. After all, who really wants to be in pain if they can help it? Whether it is pain as small as a low-grade headache or something bigger, like chronic back pain, soothing the pain is step one and helping the issue heal comes after. Depending on where and what your pain is, that may make it harder to figure out who to go to for help. Back pain, joint issues, and muscle problems can be particularly confusing for many. Do you visit your primary care physician or do you go to the emergency room? In the case of many joint and muscle issues, your best option for both pain relief and healing is to find natural treatments through physical therapy and chiropractic care. But which is better?
The core idea behind physical therapy sessions is to help you build strength and stabilize your joints. This helps muscle injuries heal and works to help prevent relapsing or future issues. To do this, your physical therapist will generally provide you with different stretches and exercises that target your injury as well as any connected areas. Your body’s inner workings are highly connected, so the idea is to build strength and improve your joint’s ability to fully move without ignoring how that one area works as part of a greater whole. And, as you work back to optimal body movement, physical therapy sessions can help provide natural pain relief, and because it is pain relief provided while your body heals, it is generally more effective and longer lasting than, say, pain medications.
Where physical therapy focuses more on muscle function and soft tissue damage, chiropractic treatments focus more on your spine, joints, and nervous system. Chiropractic treatments focus on decompression and adjustments to both relieve pain and encourage healing. Since chiropractic care focuses largely on the spine and nervous system, and the nervous system is what causes you to feel pain, chiropractic care is an effective, natural way to both help relieve pain and help your body heal.
Chiropractic treatments focus on proper joint alignment. When a joint is not aligned correctly, it can often be the root cause of the pain you feel. In addition, that improper alignment puts strain on your ligaments, tendons, muscles, and other soft tissue that provide support. A misaligned joint can eventually cause enough strain that it can lead to tears, which can take months to heal and cause a lot of pain in the meantime. This is especially true when your spine is misaligned; a bulging disc can cause a lot of back pain, and your spine coming out of proper alignment easily causes compression that creates problems like bulging discs or sciatica. Chiropractic care not only helps those issues heal, but it can prevent them from returning, which offers lasting pain relief.
Physical Therapy Versus Chiropractic
As you can see, the primary difference between the two treatment options is that physical therapy focuses more on strength and flexibility of the muscles while chiropractic is more concerned with joint and nervous system health. So, generally choosing one treatment option over the other will depend on the nature of your injury. If your pain is caused by spinal compression, a chiropractor will be better suited to help you. On the other hand, if your injury is a strained muscle or a body part weakened after surgery, physical therapy will help you build up strength safely.
Overall, a lot of the work that physical therapists do overlaps with what chiropractors provide, which is where the question of one treatment versus the other often comes up. In reality, however, most cases should not be an either/or question. Chiropractic and physical therapy are so complementary that the most beneficial option is to seek treatment that combines both. Chiropractors focus on joints and physical therapists focus more on strength and flexibility, but these are mutually-affected concerns. For example, if you have a bulging disc, your physical therapist can provide decompression therapy to relieve some of the pressure and ease pain. Then, adjustments help ensure your spine is properly aligned. Add physical therapy to the mix to help improve flexibility and build strength in the area to prevent the issue from returning.
See how physical therapy and chiropractic treatments can help you heal. Contact Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria to meet with a chiropractor and physical therapist and see how our team can provide the comprehensive healing you need.