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  • Writer's pictureDr. Thomas Harvey

The Difference Between A Chiropractor And A Sports Medicine Physician

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

When you have discomfort, pain, injury or a disorder that requires you to seek the services of a musculoskeletal professional, you may be at a crossroad in determining which expert to choose between a chiropractor and a sports medicine physician. After all, many people perceive this two to be doing the same thing.

However, the two are different in terms of training and service delivery. Understanding the difference between a chiropractor and a sports medicine physician can help you in making the right decisions on whom to visit in case you need musculoskeletal system treatment.

Who is a Chiropractor?

While both specialist deal with musculoskeletal system issues, chiropractors are highly trained in musculoskeletal structure and physiology. They are also trained to handle nervous system disorders. Their primary mode of treatment is a hands-on manipulation of the spinal to adjust its alignment, enhance the performance of the body, and reinstate well-being.

They apply the theory that the alignment of the musculoskeletal structure of the body can help the body to heal without medicines or undergoing surgery. Chiropractic treatment is used to relieve pain on the joints, bones, connective tissues, and muscles which can be caused by traumatic events or monotonous stress. Therefore, chiropractors apply physiological therapeutics to fix the damage that is already done to restore and maintain overall health.

Who is a Sports Medicine Physician?

On the other hand, a sports medicine physician is a specialist that treats musculoskeletal injuries resulting from the participation of sports. Their training prepares them not only to treat injuries but also to prevent them. Their treatment approaches are non-surgical and well suited for sportspersons or other individuals who want to maintain fitness.

They can use medicines in their treatment. Besides treating musculoskeletal issues, sports medicine physicians are suited to handle concussion, nutrition advice, chronic illness in athletes, exercise recommendation, and injury deterrence. Therefore, their treatment plan is holistic, where it doesn't only focus on healing but also preventing the injuries or other issues from developing.

When Should You Visit a Chiropractor or a Sports Medicine Physician?

The difference between a chiropractor and a sports medicine physician is mainly exhibited in their service delivery hence requiring one to understand when they should visit one specialist and not the other. It would be best if you saw a chiropractor during the following situations:

  • You are experiencing light pain from your injury. The pain can be caused by a misalignment in your musculoskeletal system, which can be handled by simple manipulation by a chiropractor.

  • Soft tissue injury. This issue is mostly caused by overusing or exerting excess or sudden pressure on one part of the body. Chiropractic treatment can help you to fix the problem.

On the other hand, some of the situations that can make you consider visiting a sports medicine physician include:

  • All sports-related injuries such as the knee, ankle sprains, head injuries, and fractures

  • Regular checkups. These specialists are trained to detect and prevent a problem in its early stages hence recommending you to visit them in case you want to have a checkup of your musculoskeletal system.

  • Persistent injury. If you have an injury that has taken long to heal despite intervention from chiropractic treatment, then you should visit a sports physician. The specialists are trained to identify injuries that a chiropractor may not recognize.

The difference between a chiropractor and a sports medicine physician goes beyond their training and services delivery. Their charges vary depending on the services you will be seeking. However, the above are the main differences between the two professionals.

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