Massage therapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic medicine are well-known methods of pain management. However, due to their many similarities and overlaps, there can be confusion as to which method is best for certain ailments.
All three have merit and work to alleviate pain and improve functionality. Below, we review the basics of all three disciplines to help you decide which one may be best to address your health issue.
What Do Massage Therapists Do?
Massage therapy has progressed far beyond luxurious self-indulgence to important health and wellness therapy that is medical in scope. Trained and certified massage therapists can treat muscle soreness, stiffness, and chronic pain.
This type of therapeutic treatment helps to loosen muscles and relax the body, thereby helping with circulation, digestion, sleep, and overall mood. The most common forms of massage therapy include deep tissue massage, reflexology, shiatsu, and sports massage.
Massage is typically performed in a quiet, darkened room, with relaxing music and aromatherapy to help create a soothing ambiance. Massage therapy is noninvasive, restorative, painless, and safe.
Chronic stress takes a toll on a person’s physical and mental health, so massage therapy can help the body and mind to relax by regulating blood pressure, relieving inflammation, and slowing breathing and heart rates. That’s why this is an excellent treatment for alleviating arthritis pain and avoiding taking medication for your pain.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapy focuses on healing and treatment of injuries, pain, and disability through different techniques. It helps to restore strength and functionality by targeting affected organs and tissues throughout the body.
Manual physical therapy promotes healing by increasing blood flow to the injured area, and by bringing oxygen and nutrients to damaged or hurting tissues. It’s particularly essential to healing after joint surgery.
Physical therapy comes in several forms:
- Active: Strengthening aerobics and stretching exercises
- Manual: Manipulation of muscles and tissues to help alleviate pain and increase overall health
- Passive: Application of heat, ice, or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
Physical therapists (PTs) also educate their patients regarding harmful activities, postures, proper ergonomics, and prevention methods.
Chronic pain can be helped by physical therapy by retraining the brain. A graduated exercise program helps the brain to sense, get used to, and deal with pain without fear and resistance.
What Do Chiropractors Do?
Chiropractors have graduated from chiropractor school, where they learn all about the musculoskeletal system. They also learn how to manipulate the skeletal and muscle systems to restore the body’s natural alignment in order to relieve chronic disorders or injury. Chiropractic medicine ideally works in tandem with traditional medicine.
The manipulation helps relieve tension and restore mobility for chronic back, neck, and limb pain. It can also help relieve accompanying muscle spasms, numbness in the extremities, and stiffness.
Chiropractic care can provide full or partial relief for seemingly unrelated conditions, such as:
- Menstrual disorders
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Ear infections
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Fertility issues
- Respiratory infection
Licensed Therapists in Ohio
All three practices – massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors – are involved in the treatment of pain and injury, and they often refer their patients to each other. The difference lies in their type of education, philosophy, and clinical expertise and modalities.
The licensed physical therapists and massage therapists at Suburban Physical Therapy offer a wide range of services to relieve pain and restore mobility. To schedule an appointment with our team, please call either our Brecksville office at (440) 746-1730 or our Twinsburg office at (330) 963-2920. Or, complete our online Request an Appointment form here. We look forward to helping you feel better so you can enjoy the active lifestyle you love.