Your back is killing you, and it’s time to do something about it—something more than taking a lot of ibuprofen. However, should you get a massage, or visit a chiropractor? To decide, back pain sufferers—and sufferers of other body aches and pains—need to understand the differences between needing a simple massage or a treatment plan.
Differences Between Chiropractors and Masseuses
While both chiropractors and masseuses use their hands to provide treatment, the differences between the two approaches to pain treatment are significant. These differences include:
- Medical treatment: Chiropractors can make medical diagnoses, request x-rays and bloodwork, and, in a few states, prescribe medication. Massage therapists cannot.
- Areas of focus: Chiropractors address disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system such as joint pain, headaches, ear infections, tendinitis and tension. Massage therapists focus on tension, improved circulation, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
- How they treat: Chiropractors use musculoskeletal manipulation to restore the body to alignment. Massage therapists work on soft tissues to promote well-being and health.
- Training: Chiropractors must have a bachelor’s degree and a four-year degree from a college of chiropractic care. They must complete internships and residencies and pass board exams. Although each state has different requirements, people seeking to become massage therapists must usually complete about 500 hours of training.
Chiropractor vs. Massage Therapist—Which One Is the Best Choice?
If your muscles are sore from overuse, tension or anxiety, a massage can help. There are many different types of massage and a professional therapist can determine which is best for your symptoms.
If you have serious or persistent pain, a known injury or a possible illness or condition, you should see a chiropractor. As a health-care professional, a chiropractor can determine whether your pain is caused by a serious health condition.
If you are unsure, you should start with a chiropractor. He or she can diagnose musculoskeletal conditions and make sure that massage is a good choice for you. In fact, many chiropractic offices have massage therapists on staff.
A massage therapist can also help improve the quality of chiropractic treatment because improved circulation and reduced tension help a body heal faster.