A patient asked me today: What’s the difference between a physical therapist and a chiropractor? What do you think? Is that a fair question? Have you asked yourself the same question before? I will give you definitions for both professions but first let me ask you some questions which will help you answer the question by yourself. If your mother had a stroke would you take her to the chiropractor? How about if your child had cerebral palsy? Chiropractor or physical therapist? If you were dizzy and fell a lot would you call a physical therapist or a chiropractor? Here is a harder question: what would you do if you had back pain?

 Let me begin by giving you the definitions provided by the professional associations of these two professions.

The American Physical Therapy Association states that a physical therapist should be:

-Examining individuals with impairment, functional limitation, and disability or other health related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

-Alleviating impairment and functional limitation by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions.

-Preventing injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in people of all ages.

-Engaging in consultation, education, and research.

Here is how the American Chiropractic Association defines chiropractic:  

– A drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling. The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” 

I would say that the biggest difference is that physical therapy addresses functional impairment as related to pathology. In other words if there is something wrong with your body (trauma or strain or stroke….etc) you will have certain functional limitations. A physical therapist will assess these limitations and help you regain the function lost.

More on chiropractic in a later post.

For now, have a healthy, beautiful day. We’ll see you at OCDPT!