I have been asked this question so many times by both patients and friends that I thought it was worth talking about on our blog. What made me choose to write about this topic is the fact that there are still a lot of preconceived notions about each profession, and the skill they provide. Before I get started I just want to say that each profession is unique, and can work individually or in conjunction depending on the type of injury.
I am sure this may sound repetitive – but just for the sake of this post I will go through a broad overview again. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, physical therapists (PT) treat many different injuries that may occur to the human body. During the initial exam of each new patient, we test strength, range of motion, flexibility, joint mobility, balance and functional capacity. Once this is complete we put the information together and come up with a treatment plan that best serves each client’s individual needs.
In order to determine the cause of the problem, we look at the entire body of each patient rather than just looking at the area where pain is present. Our end goal is to help you feel better, and provide answers as to why you are having these problems! So in other words – our main focus to finding out why particular pain is occurring in your body, and then preventing it from returning.
During your treatment sessions, we will incorporate a mix of therapeutic exercise, modalities and manual treatments. To give you a better idea – manual treatment consists of stretching, joint mobilizations, joint manipulation, and soft tissue work. We will educate you about your condition so you are able to improve your overall quality of life even after treatments end.
Occupational therapists (OT) often work in a similar capacity to physical therapists but contrary to popular belief, OT is not a profession that treats only the upper body and hands.
As described by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website, “occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).”
Similar to physical therapy, and the philosophy of ‘looking at the person as a whole’, occupational therapists often making changes to their patient’s environment (home or work) so that they are better accommodated. An occupational therapist works with you to help you gain independence, and provide you with the necessary tools to make any task easier. This is accomplished by assisting to improve both physical ability and/or support and treat mental health issues, and learning disabilities.
Chiropractic care is a profession that dates back to the 1890’s – which treats lower back pain, neck pain, lumbar disc herniation, headaches and some joint conditions.
The most popular treatment for most of the above conditions is manual therapy with manipulation. What this consists of is taking a joint to its end range followed by a quick thrust bringing that joint past its end range, which provides clients with significant pain relief. In addition, many chiropractors provide their patients with a list of exercises and modalities they can do on their own time that will assist with the healing process.
You may or may not know that physical therapy and chiropractic care can work well together, but the fact remains that most insurance companies will not pay for both at the same time. One of the main difference is that patients may be treated by chiropractors for months or even years – and entire into a type of maintenance program. However, physical therapists may treat you for several months, but we must consistently see progress in order to continue the treatment plan. If for some reason your progress plateaus, it is possible that you have reached your maximum potential with physical therapy. You may need to continue independently with a home exercise program and/or have a discussion with your physician. This may require another look into your situation to see if further testing is needed or if attempts at another avenue of treatment may prove beneficial.
If you are currently struggling with an injury and you are not sure what direction you should go, feel free to contact our office to speak with one of our trainers – we would be delighted to help you.