This is a very common question. And why wouldn’t it be both professions are known for helping people with back and neck pain. Not to mention both are known for being alternatives to a “traditional medicine” meaning, they don’t treat with surgeries or medications. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give a simple definition for what chiropractic and physical therapy are because both professions are as different as the practitioners in them. Physical therapist spend the majority of their education taking a deep dive into the anatomy and physiology of the human body in order to learn how to help heal the body. We are taught a variety of manual techniques and exposed to several treatment philosophies. That is to say neither profession is a modality (ice packs, hot packs, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound) that has firm definition.
Since there is so much variation how each practitioner of both profession will treat I will let a chiropractor define their treatments. Instead, I will describe the treatment philosophy at Your Goals Physical therapy.
At Your Goals Physical therapy we only concerned with helping YOU get back to ENJOYING your favorite activities without limitation. The way we believe that happens is by empowering you to help heal yourself. We spend an hour one-on-one with each of our patients. During the initial hour we listen to their story, find out what goals are important to them and create a plan to achieve their goals. Then we get to work...
The basic outline for our treatments plans is 3 phases:
Phase 1: Many people wait to seek Physical Therapy until their pain level has reached an unbearable level or until they can no longer raise their arm at all. So the first priority it so reduce their pain or improve their function with manual techniques. Manual techniques (hands on treatments) help calm down irritated tissues, help promote muscle activation, and improve joint movements.
Phase 2: By using a combination of manual techniques and specific exercise the goal of this phase is to reduce the risk of your injury returning. This is the time we look at any movement patterns that could have lead to the initial injury in order to address and resolve them. It’s Important to note that many people are pain free during this phase. Even if you are out of pain that doesn’t mean the injury is fully healed. I know that sounds crazy BUT for most people injuries are actually caused by years of slowly falling into bad habits. The easiest example is posture. Most people can remember having amazingly straight upright posture. Then they look in the mirror one day and they are slouching and can’t sit up straight anymore. This change in posture didn’t happen overnight and correcting it won’t happen overnight even if the pain resolves. This is why we don't discharge patients simply on the basis of being pain free.
Phase 3: GET YOU BACK to your favorite activities without limitations! During this phase manual therapy will be slowly taken out to ensure YOU know how to self-treat. Your exercise program will be enhanced as needed to give you the best outcomes. At discharge you will have the knowledge and skills to resolve any future flair ups.
That about sums it up.
In any where from 4 - 8 weeks we want you to be back to your favorite activities. During that time you will learn how to self treat and you will know the exercises to stop any future fare ups. That way you won't have to see us again and again for the same issue. (Unless you want to :))
Things that will not be part of a treatment session
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald