How to Tell if You Need a Chiropractor or a Massage?

How to Tell if You Need a Chiropractor or a Massage?

You will be able to tell whether you need treatment from a chiropractor or massage therapist by the location of the source of your pain or discomfort.

When you are dealing with body pain and discomfort, there will come a time when you will decide enough is enough. Assuming your body pain or discomfort issues are mild to moderate, it might be a good idea to address your issues as soon as possible. You can do that by visiting a reputable chiropractor or massage therapist.

If you choose to start by visiting a chiropractor, it would be their call on deciding whether they should employ chiropractic adjustment techniques or recommend massage therapies. To be clear, they, themselves, could actually provide both treatment options in the form of chiropractic massage.

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Chiropractor vs. Massage: Which Option is Best for You?

When it comes to your health, the best treatment option is always the one that is the most effective, least invasive, and most affordable.

At issue is the fact you are dealing with body pain or discomfort. Maybe you know the source of the problem and maybe you don’t. As you contemplate whether you should see a chiropractor or massage therapist, you are going to need information. It’s information that is best provided by a chiropractor or massage therapist.

Assuming you really want what’s best, you might want to start your endeavor by seeing a chiropractor. After they identify the source of your pain and discomfort, you can ask them for a recommendation. An honest chiropractor would tell you what’s best in terms of getting treatment.

What does the term chiropractic adjustment mean?

Chiropractic adjustments should only be done by licensed chiropractors and medical professionals. Chiropractic adjustments are typically done to relieve back, neck, and joint pain. They can also be done as a maintenance option to improve a patient’s overall well-being.

Chiropractic adjustments require the use of hands and small tools to apply pressure along the spine or in the vicinity of joints. Chiropractors use these items to “manipulate” bones. The manipulation of bones is intended to bring the skeletal system back into proper alignment. Hopefully, bringing the body back into proper alignment will result in pain relief, better balance, better flexibility, and improvement in the patient’s quality of life.

What is a massage therapy?

Massage therapy is typically provided by a licensed massage therapist.

Through the use of the hands and sometimes machines, massage therapy is used to manipulate muscles and the soft tissues that surround joints. The primary goals of massage therapy include:

  • Pain relief
  • Relief of mental health issues like stress and anxiety
  • Improve blood flow for the purpose of injury healing
  • Improve sleep and appetite
  • Improve the functionality of body systems such as the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems

How are chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy similar?

Chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy are similar in the goals they try to achieve. Both processes are intended to relieve body pain issues in either the back, neck, joints, or muscles.

Other similarities include the use of therapeutic devices and the hands for manipulation of certain parts of the body.

How do they differ?

Some of the minor differences are really nothing more than nuances related to procedures. The major difference between chiropractic adjustment and massage therapy is the target of each therapeutic process. Chiropractors go after the neuromuscular skeletal system, which includes bones, nerves, and muscle structures. Conversely, a massage therapist targets muscle and some soft tissues.

Will you require a massage treatment or chiropractic adjustments?

Based on the information provided so far, you might be getting a clearer picture of which treatment option is going to be best for you. Again, you really do need to know the source of your pain or discomfort before you can make a solid decision based on facts.

If the source of your pain or discomfort lies in your spine or joints, it stands to reason chiropractic adjustments would be the right call. If the issue involves strained or torn muscles, then massage therapy would be the way to go.

Can you simultaneously get treatment from both options?

This is an interesting question to which the answer is yes. In fact, there are a lot of licensed chiropractors who will empty their entire treatment toolbox in order to help some patients. Remember, chiropractors also use certain types of massage therapies.

As far as the effectiveness of using both of these treatment options simultaneously, it often works very well for most pain issues. While chiropractic care targets hard tissues like bones and joints, massage therapy can make sure soft tissue issues are also getting resolved.

Should I Seek Chiropractic Treatment Before or After Massage Therapy?

If the source of your pain issue seems to lie in your spine or joints, you should certainly start addressing your pain issues with a chiropractor. As they provide treatment, they will know whether or not massage therapy would also be beneficiary. It’s also possible that an initial appointment with a massage therapist will result in them recommending you also see a chiropractor.

Reasons you should schedule your chiropractic appointment BEFORE seeing a massage therapist

If you sense you are dealing with a strained muscle, it’s appropriate for you to initially seek help from a massage therapist. However, starting with a chiropractic appointment for pain issues is usually the preferred way to go. Why?

On the scale of medical professionals, a lot more is expected from chiropractors. They receive far more education on the human body as compared to massage therapists. In fact, chiropractors are categorized as medical professionals while massage therapists are just that, therapists.

Advantage of making chiropractic appointment first

A full-service chiropractor usually has a lot more resources that can be used to make a diagnosis. They typically have imaging resources they can employ to find the actual source of a patient’s pain or discomfort. Once you know the source of your issue or issues, it will be easier to determine the right course of treatment.

The benefits of combining chiropractic treatment and massage therapy

Most pain-causing injuries involve both hard and soft tissue issues. By combining chiropractic adjustments and massages, you stand a chance of expediting the healing and recovery processes.

How does massage therapy work in conjunction with chiropractic?

Massage therapy does one therapeutic thing very well. It increases the flow of healthy blood throughout the body. More healthy blood promotes better and faster healing of injuries and soft tissue issues.

Signs You Could Benefit From Chiropractic Massage Therapy

To you, it might not be obvious that you could benefit from chiropractic massage treatments. To a licensed chiropractor, there are definite signs that would indicate to them that you would need or would benefit from both forms of pain treatment.

An injury has occurred

Most injuries will simultaneously involve both hard and soft tissues. In such cases, chiropractic massage therapy would likely be needed to address pain issues while also promoting the healing process.

You are looking to diminish the effects of degenerative conditions

When addressing degenerative conditions like degenerative disc disease, you need adjustments for pain relief. Simultaneously, you would need massage therapy to increase blood flow to the injured area. Chiropractic massage techniques help promote faster healing and help prevent the progression of degenerative conditions.

You need to regain mobility or flexibility

Two things need to happen to help you regain lost mobility and flexibility. First, the pain/inflammation has to be dealt with, which usually falls under the responsibility of chiropractic care. Second, there needs to be healing of the problem area, which typically falls under the preview of a massage therapist. Chiropractic massage combines both options in one form of treatment.

You can’t determine the source of your pain

Sometimes, it’s difficult to identify the exact source of a patient’s pain or discomfort. In such cases, assuming health conditions permit, chiropractic massage can be used. This option is a lot safer than straight chiropractic adjustments.

You are dealing with a chronic pain condition

Chronic pain issues often demand the highest level of care and treatment. That means all options should be considered. Why? Chronic pain issues are generally symptomatic of a significant injury or health condition.

You are deal withe neck pain issues

Neck pain issues need to be addressed as delicately as possible. Why? Neck injuries can quickly escalate into more significant issues.

You want to find out if chiropractic massage can enhance your quality of life

Chiropractic massage has benefits in terms of being a preventative measure. Regardless of what else might be going on with your health, further improvement could be prompted by chiropractic massages.

Chiropractic has been prescribed by your doctor

As a good patient, you should try to adhere to all doctor recommendations. If a doctor believes you will benefit from chiropractic massages, there is a very good chance they are right.

You are a pregnant patient

Straight chiropractic adjustments are not recommended for pregnant women. However, there are chiropractic massage techniques that are safe enough for such patients.

How To Know If You Need a Chiropractor or a Massage

The best way to determine whether you need to see a chiropractor or a massage therapist is to determine the source of your pain or discomfort. This can usually be accomplished by a proper diagnosis after imaging. If it’s a hard tissue (bones, nerves, joints) issue, go with a chiropractor. If it’s a soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) issue, go with a massage therapist.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Using hands and small instruments/devices, a chiropractor will manipulate the skeletal system. The adjustments or manipulations they make are generally intended to realign the skeletal system and offer pain relief along the spine.

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

Using hands and small instruments/devices, a massage therapist will manipulate muscles and the soft tissue that surrounds joints. The goal of a massage therapist is to help patients with pain issues, relaxation, and help improve body function with better blood flow throughout the body.

Their Differences

While they both target pain issues with their hands and medical devices, a chiropractor works with hard tissue while a massage therapist works with soft tissue.

What About Combining These Treatments?

Chiropractic massage from a licensed chiropractor is the preferred option when straight chiropractic adjustments might be too aggressive.

Which of Them is Better for Back Pain Relief?

Both chiropractic care and massage therapy are great options for dealing with pain. The source of the pain is the primary factor that one should use to determine which option is better.

Chiropractic Care – Benefits of Aligning Your Spine

Chiropractic care is the right call when pain issues are connected to the spine. By aligning your spine, a chiropractor can relieve your pain while also bringing better balance and functionality to your body.

Massage Therapy – Muscle Tension Relief

When muscle tension is the source of your pain, a few therapeutic massages can diminish the pain by relaxing muscles.


Is massage better before or after the chiropractor?

Both options often work well at the same time.

How do you know if you need an adjustment at the chiropractor?

If the source of your pain lies in your spine, a chiropractic adjustment would likely be the right call.

Can a chiropractor get rid of knots?

Yes. Chiropractors can employ chiropractic massage techniques to remove muscle and soft tissue knots.

Can you have a regular massage and see a chiropractor at the same time?

It’s possible, but be sure to consult with your chiropractor before doing so.

Do chiropractors massage

Most chiropractors use chiropractic massage techniques when needed.

Chiropractor or massage for knots

Both options are viable.

Chiropractor or massage for lower back pain

Since most lower back issues involve the spine, a chiropractor would be the right call.

Should I see a chiropractor or massage therapist for neck pain

Again, go with a chiropractor if it’s a spine issue and a massage therapist if it’s a muscle issue.

Massage or chiropractor for sciatica

Since sciatica is usually caused by spine issues, a chiropractor would be the right call.

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