Are Physical Therapists Like Chiropractors?

Clear Lake City Chiropractor Comments: This is a fairly common question that I get asked in my office. While the simple answer is no, physical therapists do have some similarities in treatment to chiropractors. First and foremost, each individual practitioner in each profession treats in his/her own unique way so the comments below are generalities.

Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) diagnose, treat and prevent mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system which affect the nervous system and therefore one’s general health.

Chiropractors aim to maintain, restore, maximize and develop one’s functional ability through specific spinal adjustments, physical modalities and rehabilitative or therapeutic exercises. Physical therapists use rehabilitation therapy and general mobilizations, usually under the orders of a doctor, to help restore a patient to their pre-accident or illness status. Chiropractors use a holistic approach to treatment that focuses not only on the physical, but the psychological, social and emotional well being of the individual through diagnosis, treatment and intervention. The chiropractor then will typically give the patient home based exercises and stretches to prevent a reoccurrence after care is completed.

Chiropractic doctor’s practice combines aspects from both alternative and mainstream medicine. Most chiropractors work with the patients other doctors to coordinate the necessary care of the patient based on the diagnosis that we determine thru our own specific examination. Depending on the specialty of the chiropractor, he/she may have a more nutritional, neurological, sports or in my case orthopedic type of practice.

Physical therapists (PT’s) on the other hand practice in different settings such as outpatient clinics, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, extended care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, education and research centers, occupational environments and fitness centers. Care is typically directed by the diagnosis and orders of a doctor, though some PT’s are currently allowed direct access.

Chiropractic doctors and physical therapists are both currently using evidence based research to expand their knowledge and further help our patients. Hopefully in the future DC’s, PT’s and other providers of physical medicine will work together for the greater good of our patients with all providers knowing the strengths and limitations of their care.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!