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The Difference Between A Chiropractor And A Physical Therapist

    If you happen to roll your ankle while playing soccer and fear that you’ve broken your ankle or torn your ligament, then the person to see is an orthopedist. So, if there’s blood involved or you can feel a broken bone, then head straight for the ER.

    But, if you’ve felt pain in your ankle for a while and feel like you are unable to function properly, then you want to go to a chiropractor or a physical therapist.

    When we talk about chiropractors or physical therapists, the first question that pops into the head is, ‘ are chiropractors physicians?’

    Yes, these guys are very much physicians. By definition, a physician is qualified to practice medicine, especially in medical treatment and diagnosis. 

    As far as the chiropractors are concerned, you have to graduate as doctors of chiropractic degrees from health colleges. And, to become a physical therapist, you must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

    Now, there are underlying similarities in both professions, considering that they deal with people of all ages. Moreover, both are, to some extent, required to do a study of human anatomy.

    However, it is ridiculous to claim that both these professions are more or less the same.

    So, without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at both these respective fields to appreciate their differences. 

    What Certification Do Chiropractors Have?

    Certification matters a lot when it comes to science and medicine. Not to mention, certification can help highlight the difference between medical professionals. Check this pediatric chiropractor out.

    When we talk of chiropractors, there are specific requirements that they must comply with before they can be called a practicing physician.

    • Attending a chiropractic college – a degree from an accredited chiropractic college is a must.
    • A Doctorate of Chiropractic – a minimum of six years of chiropractic studies is necessary – two years in undergraduate with courses in sciences such as biology, psychology, anatomy, chemistry, and others – four years in chiropractic. Many institutes even demand a Bachelor’s Degree before enrollment.
    • A License to practice- Educational requirements vary from one state to another.
    • A chiropractic specialty – popular specialties include geriatrics, pediatrics, or sports injuries. The specialty program includes neurology, acupuncture, nutrition, occupational health, as well as diagnosis, and internal disorders.

    What Certification Do Physical Therapists Have?

    There are many requirements that every physical therapist must meet before getting their hands on patients. Here’s how physical therapists go about earning their license.

    • A Doctorate of Physical Therapy – a minimum of six years is required- three years as postgraduate with primary content areas being anatomy, cellular histology, biomechanics, and others – three years in DPT programs with80% being curriculum and lab study, and 20% being clinical education
    • A License to practice – you must pass the state licensure exam

    What Do Chiropractors Do?

    A licensed chiropractor practices a conservative approach to treating problems associated with the tendons, muscles, ligaments, joints, nerves, and bones. 

    They use spinal manipulation and other procedures to heal the musculoskeletal and nervous system health conditions. If you’ve happened to catch any viral videos of chiropractors treating their patients on YouTube or Facebook – you’ll know what we’re talking about. 

    There are many benefits of chiropractic therapy, however, you can expect results to show over multiple healing sessions. 

    The foremost advantage of chiropractic therapy is that its a non-invasive procedure. There are no pain-killer injections or operating procedures involved. For those of us who have a needle-phobia, chiropractic therapy can be a welcome relief. 

    Also, in most cases, these physicians take into consideration the patient’s medical history and a physical examination to evaluate the medical condition.

    They may even access the patient’s spine through X-rays to determine any subluxations. Neuro-musculoskeletal treatment may be provided, along with medical advice on lifestyle changes for improved health conditions. 

    Some chiropractors even suggest tips about nutrition, sleeping routine, and exercise to enhance your well-being. Theirs’ is a holistic approach to pain relief. 

    What Do Physical Therapists Do?

    Physical therapists treat patients with disabilities, injuries, and other health conditions. These movement experts improve the quality of your life by prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education. 

    A PT will examine a patient’s medical history, and use the referral from the doctor to determine the proper course of the treatment required by the patient. 

    The treatment plan would be based around the improvement of the ability to move, reduce, or manage pain, and rehabilitate disability to enhance function.

    PTs have a profound impact on their patient’s lives as they help people achieve their fitness goals, and regain their independence.

    Major Differences Between Chiropractors And Physical Therapists

    The significant difference between a chiropractor and PT is that a patient requires a medical referral to visit a PT. On the flip side, chiropractors are accessible to the general public.

    In fact, the medical doctor may even limit the amount of care given by a physical therapist. Now, some states have granted PT direct access to the patients. However, many states still do not have such laws in place yet.

    Another major difference is that the education curriculum of chiropractors involves many class hours in radiology, physiology, pathology, clinical examination, laboratory testing, and interpretation, and diagnosis. 

    None of these are part of the physical therapy education system. And, a physical therapist may choose to specialize with a residency or fellowship program. But, a chiropractor must choose a specialty program during their doctorate.

    In Conclusion

    Now that you’re aware of the difference between chiropractors and physical therapists, you can make an informed decision about the kind of treatment you’d like, should the situation ever arise. 

    The good thing about both types of treatment is that they’re mostly non-invasive and have a more holistic and wellness-focused approach to dealing with patients. 

    We hope this article has been of help to you and has helped clear out most of your doubts. However, we’d recommend you thoroughly research any treatment option before you try it out. Remember, it’s important to look out for number one. 

    Stay healthy, and stay safe.