While chiropractors and massage therapists use their hands to treat patients, there is a very drastic difference between them. Most chiropractors will whole-heartedly recommend massage therapy for certain patients. Massage therapy is a very important form of healing, but it does not have the same broad scope of practice that chiropractic does.
Chiropractors are primary healthcare providers and can help treat a number of conditions. Their main goal is to release subluxations in the spine to make sure the body and the nervous system are operating at their best possible level. Massage therapists on the other hand are experienced in treating muscular conditions only and in helping relieve muscle pain, stiffness and tension through hands-on treatments. There are a number of other differences between chiropractors and massage therapists as well. Understanding these differences can help any individual determine whether they need to visit a chiropractor or a massage therapist for their healthcare needs.
Education and Training
One of the biggest differences between massage therapy and chiropractic care is the amount of education that these individuals must complete. Chiropractors are doctors who not only need a four-year undergraduate education but also a four-year doctorate of chiropractic program. During their programs, these individuals must not only receive extensive training, but also complete a residency program, pass several rounds of boards and certification tests and take classes in physics, biology, anatomy and physiology and chemistry.
Massage therapists on the other hand typically complete around 500 hours of training, although it does vary from state to state.
Scope of Practice
Chiropractors are responsible for treating the entire spine and the whole musculoskeletal system. This means that they are responsible for bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. They typically treat patients with spinal manipulations but can also use massage, physical therapy and ultrasound therapy. Chiropractors can also do x-rays, refer patients to other medical professionals, prescribe nutritional advice and vitamin regimens, and prescribe exercise as treatment.
Massage therapists focus on the muscles, performing one or several types of massage types such as a Swedish massage, sports massage or deep tissue massage.
Choosing the Right Professional for Your Healthcare Needs
If you have sore muscles or are looking to simply relax and unwind, then you may want to visit a massage therapist. However, if you have any other pain, discomfort, or a possible health condition, then you should visit a chiropractor. It is typically best to visit a chiropractor first before visiting a massage therapist, particularly if you feel as though you have an injury forming.
A chiropractor is a doctor and a health care professional that can help you determine if a more serious condition is to blame for your healthcare concerns. They will be able to make sure it is safe for you to visit a massage therapist and they will also be able to help you with any serious issues that you may have such as disc issues, pinched nerves, joint pain, aches and anything in between.
Ultimately, if you have any concerns that require professional attention, you should always consider consulting your chiropractor. If you have a condition that may need attention, visit your chiropractor — they will be able to help you or steer you in the direction of someone who can help you. Whether you have an aching low back, auto injury or allergies, these are the professionals you want to visit.