When to see a Chiropractor vs an Orthopedist by Kristin Watkins

The Doctors of Ocean View Chiropractic see and treat new patients everyday, sometimes these patients come to the office as their last resort after trying countless other options and seeing no improvement. This unfortunate reality is in part due to a lack of awareness about chiropractic and also due to a confusion by patients as to exactly which doctor to see for their specific problem. Finding the correct specialist for a symptom can be challenging for any patient especially when there can be so many closely related doctors who treat similar ailments so differently. One prime example of this would be headaches. A patient who has a headache could see their primary care physician and be given a prescription, a neurologist and be given a cat scan, an ER doctor and be given an injection or a chiropractor and be adjusted. Four different specialists for the same one symptom could offer four different treatments, this is why it is so important for patients to understand all of their options in order to make the best decision for their course of treatment.

Trying to figure out the best option when the chief complaint is pain can be painful. While researching symptoms like muscle or joint pain the two most common specialists are chiropractors and orthopedists, while they treat similar symptoms their treatment methods could not be more different.

Webster’s defines Orthopedics as: The branch of medicine that deals with the prevention or correction of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments.Orthopedic doctors will primarily recommend physical therapy for exercise rehabilitation and orthopedic surgery for surgical intervention. While orthopedic surgery may sound like a foreign concept most people know someone who has had a surgery that involved hardware. Orthopedic surgeons use metal plates and screws to stabilize musculoskeletal structures in the body that have been weakened by broken or fractured bones, torn ligaments or strained and weakened muscles either through normal wear and tear or trauma.

As the patients of Ocean View Chiropractic know, chiropractic is: A health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, the method of treatment usually involves manipulation of the spinal column and other body structures. In other words, chiropractic focuses in on the nervous system and demonstrates that if the nerves in the body are free from interference the body is able to function at its optimum level, not only relieving the body of painful symptoms but also allowing a patient to function to their highest abilities. Chiropractic is not about surgery to replace weakened systems it is about finding the cause of the weakening system and treating the interference of the nerves that go to the affected area and providing the muscles around the area with support through both muscle strengthening exercise therapy and deep tissue massage therapy.  

An important thing to keep in mind for any patient unsure of which specialist to see is that each specialist does have their proper place in medicine or they would not be in practice, however surgery should always be a last resort not a first attempt at treatment. It has become a far too common practice to remove vital parts of the body and replace them with mechanical pieces. Our bodies were made to function and designed to allow us to live long, healthy, full lives.  If given the proper nutrition, exercise and with regular maintenance of the spine and nervous system the need to repair or replace integral parts of the musculoskeletal structure should be reserved for only the worst cases.

Chiropractic looks at the body as an entire network of functioning systems not just at a symptom. Chiropractors are not pain doctors or symptom maskers, chiropractic believes that the body presents physical symptoms to let us know that there is a problem within the body and chiropractors consider it their mission to find exactly where that problem stems from and correct it so that the physical symptoms drastically decrease on their own or subside completely.

Orthopedists will normally recommend physical therapy which is designed to strengthen the muscles, tendons, or ligaments of the affected area. Orthopedists are more commonly individual symptom focused and if the condition does not improve or is even exacerbated by the physical therapy will simply recommend that the patient goes in for surgery to replace the weakened structure. Chiropractic demonstrates that if the nervous system  is properly cared for the entire body will function at a higher level and with proper nerve supply restored the body can fight and strengthen itself without the need for the assistance of metal replacement parts.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the subject for patients in pain trying to find some relief from the tough decision of figuring out which specialist is best for their symptom. Chiropractic is a natural, dedicated form of treatment for overall health that is safe for all age groups and beneficial to anyone with a nervous system.