Health & Wellness

Do I Need a Massage, a Chiropractor or Physical Therapy?

Manual Therapy

June 15, 2022

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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A friend of mine had been seeing a chiropractor for about a month or two. She could barely get her shoes on without significant pain, which is what prompted the visits. She had no idea what caused it, and she finally reached out to me because the pain wasn’t getting any better. 

She’d seen me for a massage before, but always for stress reduction and relaxation, so it didn’t even occur to her to call me when she was in pain. Her first and only thought was to call her Chiropractor, as most people do when they have pain in their body; it’s what we’ve been conditioned to think of. Pain and Chiro’s go hand in hand. 

But, she wasn’t getting any better. 

The massage industry has been connected to the spa industry for a heck of a long time, and so it’s natural to think of it as luxury, or a treat every once in a while to spoil ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I thought of it that way too, until I went to school for massage therapy and realized, it’s so much more! 

But how do we know when we’re in pain what type of body work we need? I thought you’d never ask – let’s break it down. 

Physical Therapy:

The American Physical Therapy Association describes Physical Therapists as movement experts. They improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on-care, and also through educating their patients. 

Physical Therapy may also focus on pain relief, strength, flexibility, postural alignment, regaining movement and increasing range of motion. 

There’s usually a treatment plan with Physical Therapy and it’s meant to restore function and movement, usually after an injury or accident. Other common patients seen are athletes with overstress injuries, arthritis, pre and post surgery individuals, and general strains. 

Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic care can best be described as manual therapy that often includes manipulation of the spine. They are most often treating issues related to the musculoskeletal system, which is made up mostly of bones and joints that aid in movement of the body. 

The manual therapy used can range from stretching to sustained pressure for joint manipulation. Most people are familiar with the quick but gentle thrust used by the Chiropractor to improve the joint movement and function. I remember this as a kid – cracking my neck! Most work is done on the spine, but can be seen in other areas of the body as well. Neck and back pain are common issues that Chiropractors see patients for. 

Massage Therapy:

Massage Therapy manipulates the soft tissue in the body. This includes muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and skin. There are different trigger points and types of pressure and movement that can aid in this manipulation. 

Massage is often referred to as integrative medicine, which is a form of medical therapy that combines both treatment and practices of alternative and conventional medicine. This ranges from stress reduction to pain management and even improved immune function. It’s where pain management comes into play where it becomes confusing to decipher what type of body worker you need. 

Massage can take you into a transcendent state, tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system – rest and digest, which helps with both stress reduction and immune functioning. 

Therapeutic focused massage can be used for pain management helping with things like chronic neck pain, fibromyalgia, TMJ, migraines, and chronic fatigue syndrome to name just a few. Most of my patients recently have been coming in for low back pain, but I am finding that the source is coming from their hips and pulling on their low back. 

So who you gonna call for your pain busters? If you’re looking to restore strength and mobility, you might need a Physical Therapist. If there is something going on with your spine or stiffness in the joints, it might be good to check out a Chiropractor. If your muscles aren’t feelin’ like your friend, might be best to contact a Massage Therapist that can do some focus work. 

My experience with Chiropractic care is results should be fairly immediate, they are snapping you back into place for lack of better words! If you don’t feel relief from the first one or two sessions, you might be in need of a Massage Therapist. It can sometimes take a little longer when manipulating tissue and muscles, but after about three sessions you should feel relief, if not sooner. If there isn’t relief in about that time frame, same goes vice versa, might be best to try out something else, or maybe another Therapist. 

There’s a lot of overlap with each of these therapies, so let your body do the talking, it should tell you what’s working and what’s not. The body doesn’t lie! It truly wants what’s best for you, treat it with care. 

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