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Chiropractors vs. physical therapists- what's the difference and how can they help?

Chiropractors vs. Physical Therapists: Understanding the Difference in New York State

It can be debilitating to endure pain in your muscles or joints. The body is a complex structure, and because of that, there are many different types of medical professionals that help take care of different systems. You might have heard of ‘chiropractors’ and ‘physical therapists,’ but you may not know the benefit of chiropractors vs physical therapists. Although both are health specialists who help people enhance their mobility and function, they have different specialties and treatment approaches. Let’s dive a little deeper into each one of these awesome professions.

Chiropractors vs. Physical Therapists- What is the role of a chiropractor?

Chiropractic treatment involves aligning the spine and other body joints. The theory behind chiropractic care is that when your body becomes misaligned, it is unable to function as efficiently. As such, a licensed chiropractor uses manual manipulations or adjustments to remedy these issues and restore joint function. They might also apply other techniques like the instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, decompression, or electrical stimulation.

Chiropractors help treat conditions associated with joint dysfunction, primarily in the spine, affecting nerves, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Part of your chiropractic care with BC + PT may include modifying ergonomic positions or utilizing personalized exercises to improve your overall outcome. Besides helping with acute or persistent pain, a chiropractic session can also offer preventive care. Chiropractors at BC + PT are also trained and qualified to treat patients who have been in a car or a work accident.

What’s the Role of Physical Therapists?

Physical therapists are movement specialists, and they assess how your body functions and moves. Physical therapists also treat health complications that target your nerves, ligaments, tendons and muscles. If chiropractors are experts of joints and the spine, physical therapists are experts of muscles and tendons.

They usually utilize stretches and strengthening exercises. These methods help improve your strength, balance, flexibility, and posture. Physical therapists can also offer guidance/ tips on how to prevent injuries and maintain your overall well-being. The physical therapy treatments at BC + PT can help with numerous conditions that interfere with your overall function and mobility, as well as patients who have suffered from a work or car accident injury, or need treatment after a surgery.

Chiropractors vs. Physical Therapists

A chiropractor and physical therapist share some primary differences, but both can be helpful when it comes to treating injuries or conditions you may have.

Education. Chiropractors have a Doctorate of Chiropractic (DC), and physical therapists have a doctorate of Physical therapy (DPT).

Scope of practice. Chiropractic therapy primarily focuses on problems associated with the joints and spine. Physical therapy focuses on how your entire body moves and functions.

Treatment approaches. A chiropractor performs manual adjustments or manipulations to improve joint function. A physical therapist utilizing stretches or exercises to enhance movement and performance.

Treatment duration. A usual chiropractic appointment can last between 15 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the treatment you need. A typical physical therapy appointment usually lasts between 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how many modalities that are used in treatment.

Restrictions. Chiropractors might have various restrictions depending on where they practice. For instance, In New York State, they’re limited to treating conditions related to the neck and back. However, physical therapists don’t have such limitations in New York State, but they are required to have a script to treat you.


Chiropractors and physical therapists both specialize in conservative care, but hopefully now you have a better understanding of each profession. Lucky for you, both of these professions are available to help you here at Buffalo Chiropractic and Physical Therapy. If you are ready or interested in trying chiropractic or physical therapy, give BC + PT a call today!
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