Many of us have had a chronic or muscle or joint pain. Whether it’s the result of daily wear and tear, age, or an injury, the feeling of waking up day after day with that same, nagging feeling of pain and discomfort quickly becomes overbearing. Once it becomes too overwhelming for us to ignore anymore, there are a number of options to choose from, but usually, this path ends in one of two ways: a visit to the physical therapist, or a chiropractor. There’s often a good deal of debate over which is the “superior” option, with a good deal of misinformation thrown around for good measure. In truth, you’re probably in good hands with either, though the nature of your injury and what you hope to achieve from treatment are often the determining factors, along with a degree of personal preference. Both disciplines take years of schooling and practice to master, and the requirements have only become more stringent in recent years, with both requiring doctorates in most cases.
In the U.S., chiropractors require a Doctor of Chiropractic, in addition to other certifications, while P.T.’s require a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Both are quite different from a medical doctor, but they’re extremely rigorous nonetheless, being considered clinical degrees and requiring at least 3 years of post-grad education. Both disciplines focus on noninvasive, hands-on approaches to treat skeletomuscular ailments; though there are exceptions, physical therapy is generally a longer term, gradual process, while chiropractor visits can sometimes provide faster relief. Generally, chiropractors focus on manipulation, targeting spinal or muscular misalignments with to provide pain relief. With physical therapists, the focus is more on improving range of motion, preventing future injury, and strengthening the affected area. There’s far more nuance to both disciplines, and further research is always a good idea, but that’s the gist of it. If you’re interested in either option, speaking with your physician is a good place to start, followed by reflecting on what your ailment is, and what you’re hoping to achieve from treatment. Although some people may have strong opinions about this topic, both disciplines are made of highly skilled professionals that follow strict rules regarding the criteria and conduct of care.