Many times when we have stiff or sore muscles that are causing us discomfort, physicians will recommend physical therapy, massage or chiropractic care to help manage the pain and fix the underlying issue that is causing it. While each of these treatments can be effective on its own, sometimes a combination of physical therapy, chiropractic and/or massage is a better approach. When used together, the benefits build on one another to speed up recovery and improve healing.
Physical therapy and chiropractic care are not mutually exclusive and often can be used together to accomplish the patients’ goals faster and with better long-term results. It’s not unusual for chiropractors to assign at-home exercises to their patients to aid in strengthening the back or neck muscles. Many times the same exercises are used by physical therapists to accomplish the same end goal of improving muscle strength.
From a chiropractor’s perspective, all systems of the body tie together, so physical therapy only aids in chiropractic care. The stronger muscles that result from physical therapy help keep chiropractic adjustments in place. This is why if you’re already using physical therapy to recover from an accident or injury, your chiropractor may recommend that you continue with it in addition to your chiropractic adjustments. Since the muscles treated through physical therapy are connected to the bones adjusted by the chiropractor, anything that strengthens or helps these parts of the body work together better will mean that you can recover faster and with better results.
If you rely on physical therapy alone, you’re only focusing on the muscles connected to the joints and bones, not the bones themselves. Poor alignment can make it harder for those muscles to work properly and/or recover from injury because they are already under strain from being pulled by a misaligned joint or vertebra. In cases like this, strengthening the muscles won’t fix the underlying problem and may even make it worse as you over-tax the muscle. This is why working on both joints and muscles at the same time makes the most sense to achieve complete recovery.
Bones that are properly aligned will aid in strengthening the muscles being worked on at the physical therapy clinic. Patients will feel more comfortable as they go through their treatment program. They’ll find the treatments to be more effective and even easier to do. All of this makes patients more likely to stick with the at-home exercise program, which only improves their chances of recovery.
Chiropractors have long used massage therapy as an aid to adjustments and as a treatment on its own. Tight and stiff muscles make it harder to perform chiropractic adjustments. To loosen up those muscles before an adjustment, a chiropractor may massage the area to relax the muscles. Many clinics even have licensed massage therapists on staff to provide this service so they can make the adjustment soon after the massage. Relaxed muscles hold the adjustment better than overly tight or strained muscles, and because the muscles are loose, they are less likely to pull the joint back out of position after it has been adjusted.
Massage therapy has proven to be effective at reducing and breaking up scar tissue, even long perpendicular scar tissue that is tough to loosen up. This is important because scar tissue can cause muscles to bulge or contract and pull on the joints in unnatural ways, resulting in strained muscles and misaligned joints. By breaking up this scar tissue through massage therapy, muscles can relax and return to more normal function, alleviating pressure on nearby joints too.
It’s for these reasons and more that scheduling a regular massage isn’t just a luxury, it can be an extremely effective way to treat back pain and recover from injuries.
Whenever you’re seeking treatment it’s important not to limit yourself to one method. An experienced chiropractor can evaluate your situation and recommend the best course of action, whether that is physical therapy, massage, chiropractic or some combination of the three. Whatever the treatment plan is, know that your chiropractor’s end goal is to help your body achieve optimum functionality using these all-natural, drug-free and non-invasive methods.
If you’ve been injured or have recurring pain, consulting a qualified chiropractor can be a good first step towards recovery. Schedule an appointment today to get started.