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Integrated Health Solutions

The leading Downtown, Carmel and Northeast side Indianapolis Chiropractor

Comprehensive treatment for lasting pain relief.

How is chiropractic different from physical therapy?

This is a common question asked to our doctors in the office.

In this blog we will discuss how chiropractic is both similar to and different from physical therapy. We will discuss the following topics:

How are chiropractic and physical therapy different?
• How are chiropractic and physical therapy similar?
• In what situations should you use chiropractic and physical therapy?
• What IHS can offer you related to both chiropractic and physical therapy, plus more

1. How are chiropractic and physical therapy different?

Chiropractic is the use of manual techniques to diagnose, treat and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system by aligning the bones and joints in the body through manipulation and releasing tension in the musculature with manual therapy techniques. Physical therapy is the use of evaluation and treatment planning to improve mobility, reduce pain and restore function within the body.

Chiropractors use manipulation techniques to restore motion into joints exhibiting segmental dysfunction. This is most commonly performed through the regions of the spine, but can also be applied to any moving joint in the body. While not known by many individuals, chiropractors can adjust and manipulate different joints ranging from your shoulders and hips down to your ankles and elbows. This is done by taking a joint into its paraphysiological state beyond the normal range of motion to release a gas combination within the joint to centrate and improve mobility.

Beyond the adjustment, chiropractors also work through the musculoskeletal system with a combination of additional modalities and therapies. Manual therapy is a common modality used at Integrated Health Solutions. This is done with the use of tools like a gua sha or A.R.T. (active release therapy) which are designed to aid in reducing tension in the muscles and improve circulation.

Physical therapy uses exercises and physical activities to improve muscle strength and range of motion. This is commonly used before and after surgeries, recovery from disability and rehabilitation of bodily compensation. This is done with the assistance of therapeutic bands, dumbbells and other weighted options and balance materials. 

2. How are chiropractic and physical therapy similar?

Chiropractic physicians are trained in biomechanical function which allows them to perform functional and dynamic rehabilitation. Some chiropractors, like those trained at Integrated Health Solutions, can also attend seminars and receive certifications in techniques like DNS (dynamic neuromuscular stability) or SFMA (selective functional movement assessment) which give them the knowledge and ability to aid in recovery and muscle/functional compensation.

Physicians at Integrated Health Solutions are able to create personalized treatment plans which incorporate a version of physical therapy. This dynamic therapy can help decrease muscle compensation, create stability, improve range of motion and provide lifestyle and habitual changes to improve quality of life. Assessments like SFMA give chiropractors not only the ability to assess and diagnose mechanical and functional limitations, but give them a resource bank of treatment exercises and options to improve and correct these dysfunctions. This creates a bridge to what physical therapists can do.

Physical therapists can apply manual movement based corrections called mobilizations. These are forms of manipulations that are used to break up restrictions and improve joint mobility. This creates dynamic joint mobility to large joints like the hips, shoulders and elbows. This movement stays within the normal joint range of motion, but allows a physical therapist to relieve tension within a large joint while also working to improve the strength and stability.

Both chiropractors and physical therapists can also gain certification in additional techniques like dry needling. Dry needling is a form of musculoskeletal treatment that aims to reduce trigger point activity in muscle to reduce muscle tension, improve blood flow/circulation and increase range of motion. Dry needling is a variation of medical grade acupuncture that comes from the ancient Chinese practice of medicine. It has been adapted and improved over the ages to create the greatest improvement on patients. 

Chiropractic physicians at Integrated Health Solutions, as well as certain physical therapists, use dry needling in the office as a primary treatment option prior to the adjustment. Dry needling is used with a plethora of different sized filaments to penetrate through the skin and into the muscles of the body. This varies from acupuncture in not only the depth of filament penetration, but also the target area of treatment. While acupuncture treats an energy channel in the body referred to as meridians, dry needling is applied directly into a trigger point or bundle of fascia in the body. 

Dry needling is used at Integrated Health Solutions as the first method of treatment to reduce muscle tension and improve blood circulation. This aids in the chiropractic manipulation and allows for improved range of motion. 

3. In what situations should you use chiropractic and physical therapy?

As chiropractic physicians at Integrated Health Solutions, our chiropractors specialize in treating conditions within the musculoskeletal system. This can include diagnoses ranging from segmental dysfunction and subluxation of the spine and miscellaneous joints in the body, all the way to muscle and ligament strains or sprains, respectively. We can also treat mobility dysfunction and help the body fight years of compensatory motions to improve overall quality of life as well as dynamic and purposeful functionality.

Physical therapists around the country and world can treat patients in a rehabilitation sense related to pre/post surgical needs, orthopedic complications with functionality and even addresses musculoskeletal tension and function. Physical therapists can also treat mobility restriction and improve flexibility through mobilizations to allow for increased movement of the joints of the body.

Overall, there are many similarities between the two fields. Either profession can address a patients’ health and wellness through targeted treatment designed to best assist the quality and functionality of the human body.

4. What integrated Health Solutions can offer you related to chiropractic and physical therapy?

Integrated Health Solutions offers you a range of treatment options within the offers from our chiropractic physicians. The first and most important tool offered by our doctors is dry needling. As previously discussed in the blog, dry needling is a form of soft tissue work to reduce muscle tension and improve range of motion with the use of filaments directly into trigger points through a muscle in the body. A typical dry needling treatment impacts a large area and several muscles to allow for re-education of the area and improved blood flow. Our doctors also apply a special version of a tens unit that attaches to the filaments once placed into the trigger points throughout a region that creates a gentle pulsing sensation used to further reduce muscle tension and improve circulation.

Following a dry needling treatment, our doctors will perform an additional manual therapy. This massage-like treatment follows the dry needling to smooth out the corresponding muscle fibers and bring excess circulation to the area. This technique is performed with a gua sha and a massage lotion applied to the skin. The doctors will then follow up this therapy with pressure applied by the hands in the form of A.R.T. or active release therapy. This therapy is used to correct mechanical dysfunction in the muscles to reduce muscle pain, stiffness, weakness and trigger point activity.

Next, the doctors will apply a chiropractic manipulation to an affected region or joint. This is a technique used to improve range of motion and create alignment within a dysfunctional joint. Chiropractic manipulation techniques can vary from not only office to office, but doctor to doctor. The main technique used at integrated Health Solutions is diversified technique. This is the most common form of chiropractic manipulation and can be used not only throughout all regions of the spine, but also used for the extremity joints in both the arms and into the legs. The manipulation will also assist in fighting musculoskeletal tension and dysfunction. The proper alignment of the joints will reduce tension put onto the muscles and decrease the tendency for muscle compensation.

The final treatment administered in a typical treatment session with our doctors is the dynamic and functional rehabilitation. This treatment, along with the dry needling creates the most overlap with physical therapy. The dynamic rehabilitation used by our doctors combines the application of selective functional movement assessment (SFMA) and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS) to create stability in the musculoskeletal system and correct dysfunction and compensatory patterns throughout the body. This is a personalized treatment option that is individually catered to each and every patient in our office to best address their needs depending on the daily habits and lifestyle changes that most directly affect their body. Our doctors will use tools from dumbbells, balance boards, therapeutic bands, lacrosse balls and foam rollers to affect positive change in the musculoskeletal system and reduce compensation. These exercises will be created and addressed to only strengthen the musculature in a specific region, but also potentially decrease activation of an over-stimulated muscle creating compensation.

Our office also offers an array of passive treatment options through our CryotherapyIndy department. One option is the full body cryotherapy. This is a treatment that uses vaporized liquid nitrogen at a lower temperature to reduce inflammation and irritation throughout the body as well as increase recovery. This is a common treatment option for the active community of patients to assist the body in recovery by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and creating a fight or flight response in the body to induce the healing process.

Another option through CryotherapyIndy is the flotation tank. This is a form of sensory deprivation that works to assist in mental fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression and even headaches. This treatment option uses over 900 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved into the tank to ionize and charge the water for the beneficial effects to take place. This is a fantastic treatment option for patients with high-stress jobs or situations resulting in increased anxiety and tension in the head and neck region.

A third option through CryotherapyIndy is the infrared sauna. This treatment administers infrared light at a wavelength to penetrate deeper into the body to effect change at a more effective muscular level. It also works to accelerate the heart rate and improve circulation which can create an exercise-like sensation in the body.

The final treatment option with CryotherapyIndy is the Normatec Compression. This can be utilized for the hips, legs or arms to aid in lactic acid breakdown in the muscles to speed up recovery as well as reduce tension while improving the circulation through the extremities. 

To summarize the talking points of the blog:

This article was provided to compare and contrast chiropractic and physical therapy. Both are commonly used practitioners that aid in patient recovery and overall health and wellness.

Chiropractors are able to provide manipulations to not only the spine, but also to all other joints of the body to improve mobility and functionality. We can also provide a functional and individually-catered functional therapy to work with patients through rehabilitation, compensation and strength training. Chiropractors can also use different forms of manual therapy with instrument assistance, like the gua sha, or hands-on use of A.R.T. (active release therapy).

Physical therapists can provide low-grade manipulations known as mobilizations that work within the normal range of motion to improve mobility and flexibility. They also have a wealthy knowledge of exercises and treatment options through rehabilitation to strengthen and correct dysfunction in the body.

Both physicians can administer additional treatment options like dry needling therapy to further aid in muscular trigger point breakdown, while improving circulation and range of motion. Both fields are excellent sources of rehabilitation and improvement of health and wellness for a plethora of clients.

Integrated health Solutions also offers treatment options beyond the scope of chiropractic through CryotherapyIndy. These are passive therapies that assist the body with recovery, circulation, stress/tension and so much more.

Questions on how we can help? Call us for an exam and consult today! P: 317-449-2020

Content provided by Dr. Jordan Miller

Disclosure: sources accessed include the following

Martel MO, Finan PH, Dolman AJ, Subramanian S, Edwards RR, Wasan AD, Jamison RN. Self- reports of medication side effects and pain-related activity interference in patients with chronic pain: a longitudinal cohort study. Pain. 2015 Jun;156(6):1092-1100. doi: 10.1097/ j.pain.0000000000000154. PMID: 25782367; PMCID: PMC4431924.

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