How do physical therapy, chiropractic and physical medicine work together?
While each of these divisions of healthcare treat many of the same conditions, each takes a different approach and affects or stimulates different systems of the body. For example, if a woman seeks care for a severe tennis elbow that is worsening for 8 months, all 3 professions would likely have her reduce stressful activities and perhaps use ice to calm her elbow. From here, the physical therapist would stretch the muscles to ease tension, perform exercises to strengthen and use therapies to naturally help healing, and see her multiple times weekly for months. The chiropractor may adjust the joint around the elbow and wrist, stimulating her to heal faster and enabling her to use her elbow more efficiently. The medical doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or perform an injection at the elbow to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing. While all 3 approaches work, there are the limitations of each:
Physical therapist: slow healing, many visits to get relief and to get back to activity.
Chiropractor: many visits and this will not address strength, so the problem is likely to return.
Medical doctor: fast relief but the real problem is never addressed.
IMAGINE: She gets adjustments right away to allow her elbow to move more efficiently and enable faster healing. She begins active and passive stretching to loosen tight tissue and enable proper healing of the damaged and stressed tissues, along with therapy to stimulate her body to heal faster on its own. She also gets an injection of Sarapin and Lidocaine to calm the area, reduce inflammation and stimulate healing. Or, perhaps since it is severe she could get an injection of a steroid to eliminate inflammation altogether. Combining all 3 specialties most effectively resolves her condition and saves many weeks of suffering and limitation.