Physical Therapist vs Chiropractor: What’s the Difference?

Physical Therapist vs Chiropractor

Both licensed health professionals who can assist you with pain and mobility issues are physical therapists and chiropractors. However, they use various strategies and methods to accomplish their objectives. In this article, we will compare and contrast physical therapist vs chiropractor, and help you decide which one is right for you.

What is a Physical Therapist?

A physical therapist (PT) is a specialist in movement who assesses how your body moves and works. They can assist you in managing chronic conditions, preventing injuries, and enhancing your capacity to carry out daily tasks. In order to do this, a physical therapist will evaluate your condition, create a unique treatment plan, and lead you through exercises, stretches, and manual therapy. They will also educate you on how to maintain your health and wellness.

Some of the conditions that physical therapists can treat include:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Balance problems
  • Fractures
  • Joint replacements
  • Neurological disorders
  • Sports injuries
  • Stroke

Physical therapists work in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, and your home. They may use different modalities, such as heat, cold, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, or dry needling, to reduce pain and inflammation.

What is a Chiropractor?

A chiropractor specializes in the alignment of your bones and joints and is a specialist in the spine and joints. They can assist you if you are experiencing acute or ongoing pain, particularly in the back, neck, or extremities. A chiropractor will check your spine and nervous system, identify any misalignments or subluxations, and then make any necessary adjustments or manipulations to get everything back to normal. In order to support your recovery, they will also give you advice on lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise. 

Some of the conditions that chiropractors can treat include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Whiplash
  • Scoliosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • TMJ disorders

Chiropractors typically use specialized equipment and tables while working in an outpatient setting. To make adjustments or manipulate the body, they may employ a variety of techniques, including diversified, activator, Gonstead, or Cox flexion-distraction.

How to Choose Between a Physical Therapist and a Chiropractor?

The choice between a physical therapist and a chiropractor depends on several factors, such as:

  • The nature and severity of your condition
  • Your personal preferences and goals
  • Your insurance coverage and cost-effectiveness
  • The availability and accessibility of the services

In general, you may benefit from seeing a physical therapist if you:

  • Have a chronic condition that affects your mobility and function
  • Have had an injury or surgery that requires rehabilitation
  • Want to improve your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination
  • Want to prevent future injuries or complications

In general, you may benefit from seeing a chiropractor if you:

  • Have an acute problem with your spine or joints that causes pain or stiffness
  • Would you like to have better posture and alignment?
  • Want to improve the way your nervous system works and your general health?
  • Want to experience immediate relief from an adjustment or manipulation

These are not, however, unbreakable laws. For the best results, you may occasionally require both chiropractic and physical therapy. For instance, a combination of spinal manipulation by a chiropractor and core stabilization exercises by a physical therapist may be beneficial if you suffer from low back pain brought on by a herniated disc. The best way to determine which service is right for you is to consult with your primary care provider or get a referral from a trusted source.


You can get excellent pain and mobility relief from both physical therapists and chiropractors. Chiropractors and physical therapists use various methods and approaches to accomplish their objectives. Chiropractors concentrate on the alignment of your spine and joints, while physical therapists concentrate on how your body moves and functions as a whole. You can therefore select one over the other or combine the two depending on your condition, preferences, and goals as well as your insurance coverage, cost-effectiveness, and service availability.


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