Williams Icare Blog

When You Need a Chiropractor vs. When You Need a Massage

Ryan J. Granroth, D.C.

Posted by Ryan J. Granroth, D.C.
on Wed, Mar 25, 2015

The human body is a delicate, multi-faceted machine, and when the machine breaks down, it hurts. When your body hurts, it’s time to seek treatment and diagnosis of your symptoms. Options include physical medicine, chiropractic care, and massage therapy. How do you determine what the best course is? If you’re favoring an all-natural approach to treatment and recovery, you might consider a massage or a chiropractic adjustment. Both facilitate healing in regards to your body’s nervous system, but in differing ways. Both methods have a common goal: restored health and wellness.


Patient Need

Pain affecting hard tissue like the spine and joints, and soft tissue including muscles and ligaments, is bound to happen to everyone at some point in life. Sudden, onset pain from specific injuries like athletics or car accidents as well as chronic pain from repetitive, ingrained habits both affect the body’s musculoskeletal system. Limited range of motion can result from tissue damage, and both chiropractic and massage can restore the body’s mobility.

There is often a dilemma between choosing a massage or chiropractic care to treat pain. Both methods share a similar philosophy – treatment that is drug-free as well as hands on. Things to consider when deciding your course of treatment include the severity of the pain, patient history, and insurance options.




Massage as Therapy

Massage therapy targets issues that are muscular in nature. Muscle spasms and overworked areas of tension can benefit from massage as well as pulled or strained muscles. Massage therapy isn’t just a pampering, luxury treatment. It has legitimate medical properties effective in aiding in pain management and recovery.

Massages also affect the nervous system through the manipulation of soft tissue. The top layers of muscles benefit directly from applied massage because it encourages the free flow of fluids and energy. Soft tissue treatment helps correct misalignment of the spine.

Unlike chiropractors, massage therapists are not licensed to adjust the spine or other joints, nor can they prescribe medication. They can, however, suggest holistic and homeopathic remedies in conjunction with massage therapy. There are many massage techniques used in healing including Swedish, deep-tissue, cranial sacral therapy, and trigger point therapy. Massage therapy boasts benefits ranging from:

  • Boosts Immunity
  • Improves Skin Condition
  • Increases Blood Flow
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Aids athletes, expectant mothers, and cancer patients with healing properties


When You Need a Chiropractor

Williams Integracare When You Need a Chiropractor vs. When You Need a Massage

Chiropractic care specifically addresses the disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Unlike massage therapy, chiropractic care focuses on the hard tissue; the spine and joints. Chiropractors are trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises and might even use massage in their course of treatment. A spinal manipulation or adjustment is the most common technique employed to treat issues like back pain or neck pain. Other issues can be treated effectively with chiropractic care including:

  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Ear infections
  • Tendonitis
  • Insomnia
  • Tension

Chiropractors are authorized to make medical diagnoses and order x-rays or blood work. An initial patient evaluation will assess the patient’s entire wellness to determine issue and treatment.


Chiropractic & Massage in Harmony

Perhaps the choice is not between needing a chiropractor and selecting a massage, but a balance of the two to help chronic pain. Massage therapy can aid in chiropractic care, acting like a “warm-up” for the body prior to the adjustment. Adjustments last longer when muscle tension is released – tight muscles pull joints out of alignment, and massage therapy would address that issue directly. In turn, chiropractic care addresses misalignments which gives immediate relief to the soft tissue massage therapy specifically prioritizes. Soft tissue heals quicker once the joints have been restored to proper position.

Appreciating the process of restoring and maintaining health is fundamental. Only so much can be achieved in a single appointment, be it chiropractic or massage. Results take time. A specific care plan will detail the commitment needed for optimal health and should be followed as outlined by your health care provider.

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Topics: Chiropractic Care, Holistic Health