Difference between Chiropractor & Physical Therapist: Part 2

By Dr. Drew Voelsch

In the first part of this two-part series, we discussed what a chiropractor is. Below, we continue with the discussion of what a physical therapist does. This is important for parents to know and understand, especially when deciding where to bring their child.

Physical therapy is a healthcare profession that uses exercise, manual therapy, and other techniques to promote mobility, function, and quality of life. Physical therapists (PTs) are licensed healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, and treat individuals with various musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular conditions.

Education and Training

Physical therapists must have a graduate degree in physical therapy from an accredited program. Most programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which typically takes three years to complete. PTs are also required to pass a licensure exam to practice in their state. Additionally, PTs may pursue advanced training in specific areas of practice, such as orthopedics, neurology, sports, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

Conditions Treated

Physical therapists can treat a wide range of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular systems. These conditions may include:

  • Sports injuries
  • Back and neck pain
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic pain

Treatment Techniques

Physical therapists use a variety of treatment techniques to help their patients achieve their goals. These techniques may include:

Exercise Therapy: PTs prescribe exercises to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance.

Manual Therapy: PTs use their hands to manipulate muscles, joints, and soft tissues to reduce pain and improve mobility.

Modalities: PTs use different modalities, such as ultrasound, electric stimulation, and heat or cold therapy, to reduce pain and inflammation.

Assistive Devices: PTs may recommend assistive devices, such as crutches, braces, or wheelchairs, to improve mobility and independence.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain, sports injuries, and neurological disorders. Below are some of the benefits of physical therapy:

  • Pain Management
  • Improved Mobility
  • Faster Recovery
  • Preventing Future Injuries
  • Improved Balance and Coordination

Risks and Side Effects

Physical therapy is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment option, however, like any other medical treatment, it may have some risks and side effects. Some of these are mentioned below:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling
  • Allergic Reaction
  • Swelling and Inflammation

These risks and side effects can be lessened if the patient consults properly with a licensed physical therapist. It is also important to listen to them and follow all of their instructions.

Should Your Child See a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist?

When deciding whether to take your child to a chiropractor or a physical therapist, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, you should consult with your child’s primary care provider to determine if either of these therapies is appropriate for their condition. In general, chiropractic care may be more appropriate for conditions that involve misalignments in the spine or other joints, while physical therapy may be more beneficial for conditions that affect movement and function.

Another factor to consider is your child’s age and developmental stage. Chiropractic adjustments may not be appropriate for very young children or infants, as their bones and joints are still developing. On the other hand, physical therapy can be appropriate for children of all ages, as it focuses on improving movement and function.

Finally, you should consider your child’s personal preferences and comfort level. Some children may be uncomfortable with the idea of manual adjustments, while others may be more receptive to physical therapy exercises and techniques.


Physical therapy is a valuable healthcare profession that helps patients recover from injuries, surgeries, or illnesses and improve their overall function and quality of life. Physical therapists are highly trained professionals who offer a wide range of specialties to meet the diverse needs of their patients. By understanding physical therapy’s education, training, roles, and benefits, patients can make informed decisions about their healthcare and achieve optimal outcomes.

For the best chiropractor in Arlington Heights, Hawkeye Chiropractic is your go-to source for exceptional care. Our full service center, led by Dr. Drew Voelsch, offers a wide range of chiropractic services to help you feel better and live your best life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and start your journey towards a healthier, pain-free life.