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Physical Therapy vs Chiropractic – What's the Difference?
tor vs. Physical Therapist
Chiropractors and physical therapists (PTs) are two key players in the practice of treating chronic pain that may or may not be associated with injuries. Chiropractors and physical therapists are tasked with improving the flexibility, coordination and range of mobility in their patients. Working across the lifespan, physical therapists and chiropractors evaluate their patients’ needs and develop plans of care accordingly.
While improving a patient’s quality of life is a shared goal, physical therapists and chiropractors differ in a number of ways. For example, physical therapy—sometimes referred to as physiotherapy—deals with pain and injury through prescribed exercise and preventive care, while chiropractic treatment focuses on adjustments to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
When managing lower back pain, joint pain and other forms of chronic pain, it is important to seek the correct professional treatment to help you heal and to prevent further damage.
It is equally important for individuals considering a career in physical therapy or chiropractic practice to take note of the similarities and differences between these two professions before pursuing an education program.
Difference Between Chiropractor and Physical Therapist
How can you tell these two types of health care providers apart? Chiropractors and physical therapists often direct their attention to the same parts of the body, but one of the main differences between them is the different methods they use to treat a range of health conditions.
Chiropractic care involves the diagnosis and treatment of problems of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Patients most often seek treatment for conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, and pain in arm and leg joints, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Chiropractors may use a variety of procedures to treat these conditions and to improve overall body alignment. Methods include massage therapy, rehabilitative exercise, and spinal adjustments and manipulations.
Physical therapy, on the other hand, focuses on helping injured or ill patients improve mobility, flexibility, strength and function and manage their pain through hands-on therapy-prescribed exercises and the use of special equipment. Physical therapy patients may seek preventative treatment to maintain mobility and address the effects of aging, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Exercise; physical training in functional movement; and special movements of joints, muscles and other soft tissues are just a few of the treatment methods used by physical therapists.
Another key difference between a chiropractor and physical therapist is the formal education they receive. Both professionals must earn a doctoral degree to become licensed practitioners, but the path to earn either one of those degrees differs. The licensure process is different, too. Aspiring physical therapists are required to take the National Physical Therapy Examination, administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners requires future chiropractors to take a three-part certification exam (with an optional fourth section). Some states may require additional testing.
Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapy Career
When choosing between these two career options, individuals typically pinpoint their focus area of interest. From work environment to range of responsibilities, each professional must find the right fit. Those considering a career in either of these fields should review state requirements to practice in a specific region.
Chiropractor Career Path
While a chiropractic degree program prepares students to become licensed professionals, there are still opportunities for individuals to gain certification in different specialty areas.
Chiropractor Education Requirements
The minimum educational requirement to sit for the NBCE’s three-part certification exam is a doctor of chiropractic degree. Some DC programs do not require a bachelor’s degree for admission. However, many students complete a bachelor’s program, typically lasting three to four years, since some chiropractic schools require a certain amount of undergraduate coursework hours for admission. State requirements may dictate whether students will need a bachelor’s degree to apply.
Chiropractic programs take two to four years to complete, followed by a one-year residency.
Chiropractor Specializations and Skills
While chiropractors do hold doctorate degrees, they are not MDs, or doctors of medicine. They do, however, have extensive knowledge in general medicine, physical therapy and neurology. Chiropractors can gain certification in specialty areas such as pediatrics, acupuncture, and radiology through the American Board of Chiropractic Specialties.
Chiropractors are primarily trained to use spinal adjustments and manipulation to address patients’ needs. Professionals in the chiropractic field are also trained in the diagnostic process. They run tests, take X-rays and perform other evaluations to determine if a chiropractic procedure is appropriate for the patient. Chiropractors may provide advice on health and lifestyle issues, including exercise and nutrition.
Each state defines a chiropractor’s scope of practice differently. For example, most states prohibit chiropractors from prescribing medication to their patients, but a few states, such as New Mexico, grant practitioners limited prescription rights and the dispensation of vitamin supplements.
Chiropractor Practice and Work Environment
According to the BLS, chiropractors held about 50,300 jobs in 2018. With regards to where chiropractors work, the BLS indicates that 30% were self-employed, while 63% worked in a chiropractic practice. Additionally, a select number of chiropractors are employed by other health care facilities such as a physician’s office or a hospital. Most work full time, possibly including evening hours to accommodate patients, depending on their type of employment.
Physical Therapist Career Path
Licensed practitioners and individuals studying to become physical therapists can shape their careers in a number of ways, from residencies to certification in different specialty care areas.
Physical Therapist Education
To become a physical therapist, an individual must complete a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program, which takes about three years, and pass the national physical therapy exam. An undergraduate degree is required to apply for physical therapy school.
Neuroscience, kinesiology and clinical reasoning are just a few of the content areas DPT students cover. DPT students will spend most of their time in the classroom, but they are required to gain clinical experience.
Following graduation from a DPT program, individuals may apply for a one-year residency to receive additional training and experience in specialty areas of care.
Physical Therapist Specializations and Skills
Physical therapists are trained to provide treatment to patients who have developed functional problems resulting from sprains, strains, fractures, arthritis, amputation, neurological disorders like stroke or cerebral palsy, and other conditions.
They are able to diagnose a patient’s functions and movements, develop an individualized plan, use exercises to treat pain and increase mobility and educate the patient and their family about the recovery process.
Through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, PTs can gain certification in areas such as pediatrics, women’s health, geriatrics, and cardiovascular and pulmonary.
Physical Therapist Practice and Work Environment
Although some work in hospitals, more than 80% of physical therapists practice in other health care settings, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.
Common settings for PT practice include:
- Outpatient clinics or offices
- Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Research centers
- Fitness centers
- Sports training facilities
Chiropractor vs. Physical Therapy Salary
While both professions require similar levels of education and share similarities when it comes to day-to-day practice, the levels of pay vary. In 2018, the BLS compiled salary data for chiropractors by state and salary data for physical therapists by state. The highest-earning chiropractors lived in Rhode Island, while the highest-paid physical therapists were in Nevada (ranked by mean annual wage).
The following data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the annual mean wages of physical therapists and chiropractors by state, as of May 2018.
This list of annual mean wages covers Bureau of Labor Statistics data as of 2018.
How Much Does a Physical Therapist Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median physical therapist salary was $87,930 in May 2018. Practitioners working in nursing and residential care facilities earned a median annual wage of $94,010, and those employed by hospitals earned a median annual wage of $89,950. The rate of employment for physical therapists is expected to grow 22% from 2018 to 2028, with much demand coming from the aging baby boomer generation.
How Much Does a Chiropractor Make?
BLS data indicates that the median annual salary in 2018 was $71,410. Chiropractors working in physicians’ offices earned a higher median annual wage of $86,100, while practitioners working in chiropractors’ offices earn a median annual wage of $70,260.
Employment for chiropractors is projected to grow 7% between 2018 and 2028.
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Chiropractor vs Physical Therapist | What's the Difference?
Frequently Asked Questions About chiropractor salary vs physical therapist salary
If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic chiropractor salary vs physical therapist salary, then this section may help you solve it.
Chiropractor or physical therapist—which is superior?
In conclusion, working with a physical therapist is a good idea if your injury limits your mobility; however, if your injury involves back or neck pain, going to a chiropractor may be the best option for hastening your recovery.
Do chiropractors have a higher level of education than physical therapists?
b>Chiropractors, on the other hand, obtain a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree followed by a year of extensive training, whereas physical therapists in the US typically complete a three-year degree program of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) after their bachelor’s degree.
Which area of physical therapy has the highest pay?
Here are five physical therapist specialties that have high salaries:
- Sports medicine. Physical therapists who specialize in sports medicine treat professional and amateur athletes. …
- Cardiovascular. …
- Geriatrics. …
- Neurology. …
Can a chiropractor perform the same procedure as a physical therapist?
A physical therapist is primarily a movement specialist who assesses how the entire body moves and functions, in contrast to a chiropractor who focuses primarily on the alignment of the bones and joints as well as on musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.
Is it worthwhile to become a chiropractor?
One of the top benefits of being a chiropractor is that you will have the potential to earn a good living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chiropractors in the US earn a median salary of 0,720 per year.
What is a chiropractor higher than?
A traditional osteopath is a professional trained in the field of osteopathy, while a doctor of chiropractic is a professional involved in the diagnosis of conditions affecting the entire body and focuses on the treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Is nursing more difficult than physical therapy?
When comparing the educational requirements to start a career in these two fields, physical therapy is typically seen as the more difficult choice because it typically requires multiple degrees, including a doctoral degree.
How long is the chiropractic schooling process?
Depending on your prior education, our Master of Chiropractic – MChiro (Hons) program takes 4 or 5 years to complete full-time; however, students have the option to transfer to a full-time MSc program in chiropractic, which extends the program’s duration to 5 or 6 years.
Are chiropractors doctors?
Additionally, CAP advises chiropractors to make it clear and conspicuously known that they are using the courtesy title “Doctor of Chiropractic” (or one of its qualified abbreviations) only as a courtesy and do not hold any general medical qualifications.
Is a two-year chiropractic degree possible?
A 4-year bachelor’s degree in science is a prerequisite for admission to an approved chiropractic college, and the doctorate in chiropractic takes an additional 5 or 6 years to complete.
Is it difficult to study to be a chiropractor?
The workload can be overwhelming because there is so much material to learn that it may be too much to handle. It is full of intensive assessments, contact hours, and placement criteria you need to meet in order to graduate.
How long does chiropractic school last?
In conclusion, students can anticipate being in school for a total of 6-8 years, with 3-4 years of undergraduate studies and 3-4 years of the doctorate degree, and that they will need to send their test results and college transcripts to the state they wish to practice in in order to be licensed.
How long is the schooling for chiropractors?
A Masters of Technology in Chiropractic, a postgraduate degree that typically takes six years to complete, is required for prospective chiropractors. The first four years of the program are primarily devoted to anatomy and physiology, diagnostic skills, pathology, and psychomotor skills such as adjusting techniques.
Is studying chiropractic challenging?
The most difficult course in the chiropractic degree program, biochemistry, was mentioned as being the most challenging, along with cadaver labs, nutrition, and cardiovascular/pulmonary physiology classes.