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Can Chiropractors Do Physical Therapy?

Can Chiropractors Do Physical Therapy

Maybe you’ve heard people asking about the difference between physical therapy and chiropractic care. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the two treatment modalities, including how they overlap and how they are different. The official organizations are the best place to get reliable information on questions, in this case, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

A chiropractor, commonly referred to as a DC, or Doctor of Chiropractic, offers patients a full range of health care that utilizes science-based, conservative techniques. Chiropractors examine patients, diagnose problems, and treat them, as well as offering nutrition, diet, and lifestyle counseling. Additionally, chiropractors often prescribe exercises to prevent and rehabilitate injuries of different kinds.

Why would a chiropractor claim to provide physical therapy?

Chiropractors perceive the body as a whole system in which each part is interconnected. Furthermore, they believe that the body is capable of self-healing on its own. This explains the discipline’s hands-on approach to treatment that avoids surgery as well as other invasive treatments.

Chiropractic doctors are trained to treat hundreds of physical conditions during their four years of the medical and training course. Most of the patients who land in a chiropractor’s office complain of:

  • Pain in the neck, lower back, or middle and upper back
  • Headaches, both migraine, and stress
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Injuries resulting from vehicle accidents
  • Whiplash
  • Joint pain, arthritis
  • Sciatica or pain originates in the lower back or runs down the legs
  • Repetitive motion injuries

Due to their medical training, chiropractors are able to perform physical therapy techniques when needed – contrary to popular belief that physiotherapy treatment cannot be performed by chiropractors. They are trained to do and advise exercises and techniques to help strengthen the muscles. This is one reason that many medical professionals view physical therapy as a “subset” of chiropractic treatment.

It is forbidden for a chiropractor to call himself or herself a physical therapist (unless he or she also holds a license as a DPT (doctor of physical therapy) or RPT (registered physical therapist) along with DCs. However, a chiropractor is a doctor trained in the administration of physical therapy. Doctors of chiropractic have all the powers a physical therapist has and are not limited by their medical license.

Jurisdictional Legislation Determines Legality

Physical therapy may be legal in some areas for chiropractors. A license is needed to use the term physical therapy in most states in the United States. Although not legal, chiropractors can perform every treatment and modality that a physical therapist can. 

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