Chiropractor & Physical Therapists

Chiropractors & physical therapists (or physiotherapists) are professionals who help in the treatment of different injuries or trauma to the body.

A chiropractor is a professional who is engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, whereas a physical therapist (also called physiotherapist) is a medical professional who provides treatment in case of injury, disease or caused due to aging, to assist and restore mobility and function.

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Comparison chart

Chiropractor versus Physical Therapist comparison chart
Chiropractor Physical Therapist
Residency and Internship One-year internship that coincides with clinical courses while in training. NO Residency required, but have the option to complete if accepted and desire to. All curriculums are required to have a minimum of 30 weeks of full time internship. Residencies exist in all specialties, certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education.
Practice Private practice clinics, generally. However, some are employed by health systems and hospitals. Generalist practice, neurology related, orthopedic related, and general alignment restoration dealing with the skeletal system. Acute care, Inpatient/Outpatient Neurologic Rehab, General Outpatient, Othopedic, Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Veterans Affairs, Military, Sports Medicine, Women’s & Men’s Health, Wound Care, Work Rehab, Electrophysiology, etc.
Can prescribe medication No. New Mexico recently allowed limited prescription rights to DCs Unless in the Military, PT’s do not prescribe medications. However, all PT’s are tested on pharmacology.
Medical Licensing Exam (MLE) National Board Exam (NBCE). Parts I, II, III IV (practical) and state boards. The National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) administered by the Federation of State Boards.
Treatment Techniques Chiropractic adjustment (grade I-V) ranging from soft tissue mobilization to joint adjustment. Electrical Stimulation. Acupuncture, Pain Management All manual therapy techniques including joint manipilation, and all modalities; Neurologic rehabilitation, sports performance, gait training, muscle coordination & performance, wound care, tissue mobilization, massage, cardiovascular rehab, etc.
Years of medical school 4-5 undergraduate years (Bachelor’s required / state dependent), 5 Chiropractic school, 1 year residency, minimum 10 years Doctor of Physical Therapy = 3 academic years. All accredited Physical Therapy programs require a Bachelor’s Degree. As of January 2012, only 5 Master’s programs remain, which are typically 2 years in length. There are 213 programs in the US.
Status DC stands for Doctor of Chiropractic. They are not medical doctors, however for insurance purposes, some states consider chiropractors health care providers, some do not. A PT (Physical Therapist) is also not a medical doctor and cannot prescribe medication. PTs are also considered specialty practitioners by the insurance industry.

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