Should I see a Chiropractor or go to Physical Therapy???

A patient case scenario “My back has been hurting for the past 6 months and getting worse so I decided to see my medical doctor for help.  After telling my doctor about my lower back and how it has been hurting, he gave me a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, and a prescription for physical therapy.   I asked about going to a chiropractor, and he told me he didn’t know anything about chiropractic and I could try it if I wanted to but to be careful”.

This is a very common scenario because most people and medical doctors don’t know what a chiropractor treats.  Most people think that chiropractors treat back and neck pain which is just a symptom of what it is they treat.  A chiropractor treats a condition called a Subluxation.  A subluxation is a misalignment of a vertebra or combination of vertebrae in the spine that leads to nerve irritation which can cause a whole host of unwanted symptoms like back and neck pain.   Any joint in the body can subluxate and can be treated by a proficient chiropractor.  The sacrum/tailbone or ilium/hipbone are common nonspinal bones that can be subluxated and cause lower back and sciatic pain.  Many back surgeries that have an unsuccessful outcome are because the problem lies in the sacrum or sacral iliac joint and not in the spine.

Physical therapist treats back and neck problems and a host of other physical conditions.  Their goal is to rehabilitate the soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons) of the body that are responsible for moving the joint and supporting the joint.  Physical therapy plays in important part in helping patients recover from soft tissue injuries and surgeries.  All chiropractors are also Doctors of Physiotherapy which provide the same function as physical therapy type work.  Most state insurance regulations do not allow chiropractors to bill for Physiotherapy so they do not practice physiotherapy which is an unfair practice.  If the spine is out of alignment (subluxated) it must be put back into alignment to correct the cause of the condition.  If the subluxation is not corrected the condition will persist.  No stretching, strengthening, medication, or surgery is going to correct a subluxation.

If you are having back pain don’t expect your medical doctor to refer you to a chiropractor.  You don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor.  Start with a chiropractor first and get your spine checked.  If it is not a misalignment problem your chiropractor will refer you to a Physical Therapist.   If you are having persistent back or neck problem click on the link or call my office to get your spine checked.

Why it is Important to Stick to Your Prescribed Treatment Plan

Look For a Successful Out Come?

treatment plan is a detailed plan tailored to the individual needs and objectives of the patient.  While the contents of the treatment plan may not be what the patient had envisioned, it is what the patient needs.

Chiropractic has been around and practiced for 125 years. Out of those years of clinical experience and studies, it has been objectively proven that when a treatment plan is developed and followed as prescribed, the patient’s outcome is significantly better.

A treatment plan is developed from the doctor’s findings obtained during your consultation, exam and analysis of your x-rays.   The doctor will also consider other factors when determining the number of treatments you will need.  These will include your age, how long your condition has persisted, the severity of the symptoms and your overall health.  Your outcome will be directly related to your adherence of your prescribed treatment plan.


A treatment plan is broken up into phases with notable milestones that build off of each other to obtain your stated objectives.  Your stated objectives are determined during your initial consultation with your doctor.  The first phase is referred to as the Relief Phase of Care in which the goal is to control, minimize or relieve the symptoms. Depending on how serve your condition is and the soft tissue involved, you can be treated every day or every other day until your condition normalizes.  This can be as short as one week or as long as 6 to 8 weeks.  Most patients experience steady improvement during this initial phase of care. In some cases, the condition may temporarily get worse before it gets better.  Patience and persistence will be key to a successfully outcome.  Your doctor may prescribe other modalities to help relieve symptoms, reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.  Some cases may require removal from work, limiting activities and bed rest for several days.


The second phase is the Healing and Correction Phase.  The pain and inflammation that motivated you to see the doctor must be reduced and under control before healing of soft tissue and correction of the misalignment in the spine begins.  Soft tissue is what holds the vertebra of the spine in place.  Injuries or over-use causes it to break down and results in inflammation, spasms, misalignment and neuritis.    Soft tissue of the spine consists of ligaments, tendons, discs, nerves and muscles.  Soft tissues of the spine take 90 to 120 days to fully heal.  The objective of the Healing and Corrective Phase as prescribed is to continue with the healing of the spinal soft tissue, prevent re-occurrence of symptoms and the correction of spinal misalignment.  The goal of this phase is to continue the healing process and prevent a relapse.    Stopping your treatment plan once the pain is gone generally leads to re-occurrences of the condition.  Skipping and missing treatments reduce the effectiveness of the treatments and limits or prevents a successful outcome.


The final phase of your prescribed treatment plan (Strengthen and Correction Phase) is designed to continue the correction of misalignment and strengthen the soft tissue of the spine to prevent the re-occurrences of flare ups.  Propper strengthening and stretching exercises will be prescribed to help to restore normal ranges of motion and strengthen the soft tissues of the spine.


It is important for you to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy spine.  Spinal pain will limit all phases of your life if you let it.  Please understand that a treatment plan is not developed based on what your health insurance will cover or your schedule.  It is based on what you need to be well again.