Suffering from chronic pain is not a laughing matter. Without proper treatment, chronic pain could persist for years and have adverse effects on your mobility, strength, and flexibility if left untreated. If you’re like one of the millions of Americans suffering from crippling pain, chances are you’ve been to so many doctors, you’ve lost track of which medical professional best to seek help from.
While your GP would be in the best position to give you advice on the kind of treatment you would need, most chronic pain sufferers would see any one of these practitioners: a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a massage therapist, and a Reiki advocate.
However, most people with chronic pain and injuries would commonly visit either a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Let’s look at the similarities and differences in more detail.
Most of us are not entirely familiar with what a chiropractor does and how safe it is to visit one. We’re familiar with them in the stereotypical sense that they “crack” people’s back for a living. In truth, what a chiropractor does is manipulate our bodies to realign our joints and backs. Thus, the “cracking.”
A chiropractor is a trained specialist who can diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries to our musculoskeletal system, which is what our body uses to move. Injuries to parts of this system could cause it to break down. Chiropractic care practitioners believe that our bodies can heal themselves with minimal intervention.
While it might be true that chiropractic medicine is still somewhat controversial within the healthcare industry, recent studies have shown that it doesn’t just provide relief for joint, neck, or back pain. It also has a positive impact on:
- Respiratory problems like asthma and other infections
- Chronic fatigue syndromes like fibromyalgia
- Gastrointestinal illnesses
- Fertility issues and menstrual disorders
- Ear infections and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Chiropractors are also able to give holistic advice that includes proper exercise routines, healthy eating habits, and various relaxation techniques.
A physical therapist is similar to a chiropractor in that they both treat people with physical illnesses and injuries. Still, a PT is more inclined to help a patient during the recovery phase rather than the diagnosis phase.
There are a few methods that a physical therapist can employ in providing care for their patients:
- Passive PT – Does not require the patient to move and would include the use of heat and ice packs or a nerve stimulation machine.
- Manual therapy – Requires the physical therapist to manipulate the patient’s body that might also include some massage techniques.
- Active Physical Therapy – Most familiar of all methods. This type of therapy aims to get the patient back into their routine. The PT will recommend a set of exercises based on the patient’s injury to get the patient used to moving around again.
Regardless of whether you visit a chiropractor or a physical therapist, the most crucial thing to remember when it comes to chronic pain is to listen to your general practitioner’s advice and diagnosis. Working with a good team of medical professionals who are dedicated to your health and well-being is the first step towards managing your chronic pain.