3 Differences Between Chiropractic and Massage Therapy

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Massage and chiropractic may appear similar from the outside, but they have some major differences. Both promote natural and holistic healing of the body without resorting to invasive treatment, but in practice, massage therapy and chiropractic care are completely different from one another.


Educational qualifications and training

The most important difference between a masseuse and chiropractor is that a chiropractor is a doctor who has completed undergraduate education for four years and a doctorate of chiropractic program for another four years. Chiropractors take in-depth classes, go through a residency program, and receive extensive training about the human body and various ailments. A licensed massage therapist has to complete the minimum hours of training mandated by state, but they do not undertake a doctorate program.


Chiropractors can request bloodwork, x-rays etc. to investigate why the patient is experiencing pain. A chiropractor can make medical diagnoses. Massage therapists use their hands to relieve muscle pain and stiffness, but they cannot make medical diagnoses or request any kind of diagnostic testing.


Differences in the way they practice

Chiropractors treat the entire spinal and musculoskeletal system. Whether the problem is related to muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bones, chiropractic practice can address all of it. Chiropractors may also prescribe specific exercises as part of the treatment. They advise patients on the diet to follow and the vitamins to take for optimal functioning of the body. Chiropractors also refer patients to other medical professionals if required.


Massage therapists relax sore muscles using massage techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage etc. If you are simply looking for a way to unwind, and suffer no serious pain, then massage therapy may be a good choice.


If you have severe pain or a possible health condition, visit a chiropractor first to rule out any underlying medical condition. A chiropractor will be able to assess whether the cause of your pain is some serious issue like pinched nerves or herniated discs. They will advise you on whether it is safe for you to visit a massage therapist, if you are in pain. If the pain is caused by something more than muscle stiffness, massage may not be such a great idea.


Approach to the body

Massage therapy is primarily about manipulating the soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and connective tissues. Massage therapists use a wide range of hands on techniques with the specific intent to relax stiff muscles. Massage can increase blood flow and speed up healing.


The chiropractic approach is unique because it focuses on optimizing the complete nervous system. It is the nervous system that controls every aspect of the body. When the nervous system is balanced and optimized, then the whole body is optimized and is in good health. Most of the time, pain is caused by the nervous system not working in a balanced or optimized way due to some trauma or other underlying reasons. A chiropractor investigates these reasons and brings back the balance to your nervous system.


It is important to understand the differences between chiropractic care and massage therapy so you can determine whether you need to visit a chiropractor or a massage therapist the next time you feel a back pain coming on.

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