Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, or Both?

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If you spend your days working hard and being active, there’s a solid chance you’ll develop some stress, muscle tension, and pain. So how do you treat these health problems? Massages are always an appealing option—just hearing the word “massage” can bring about thoughts of relaxation and relief. But sometimes, chiropractic care is a more intense and more effective choice to fix what ails you, especially if the issue has more to do with the alignment of your body rather than stress put on the muscles.

Both practices offer thorough, drug-free pain relief and promote better posture and deeper relaxation. So which do you need? Determining the answer to that is not always easy. Fortunately, you can find a great chiropractor in Fort Collins at Scott Family Health. These experts will help you decide the right course of action for relieving your specific kinds of pain, tension, and stress. Maybe you need a massage, maybe you need a chiropractor, and maybe you need both! (You probably need both).


Why Do You Need Massage or Chiropractic Care?


Regardless of what you do for work or hobbies, you can injure your skeletomuscular system. You may pull a muscle, misalign your back, or cause a combination of different issues that leave you in pain and reduce your range of motion. You don’t even have to be doing anything strenuous, either.

It’s possible to hurt your back by doing something as simple as putting a plate in the dishwasher or bending over to tie your shoe. Being young doesn’t make you immune to these types of injuries, either. Yes, older people who have had back problems may be more prone to injury, but even someone in their twenties can pull a muscle by twisting in exactly the wrong way.


Do You Have a Condition Massage or Chiropractic Can Treat?


If you don’t seek out care for these injuries, you may find yourself in pain for days or even weeks. You may find it difficult to stand, sit for long periods, or perform basic tasks. If you don’t treat a misalignment, your pain may even increase over time, making it more and more difficult to maintain your lifestyle. Treating your injuries yourself can also make them worse. This is why it’s important to understand when you need to see a massage therapist and when you need chiropractic care.

There are many different reasons why you may want to see a massage therapist or a chiropractor. The first step is to identify a condition that one of these two areas can treat. One of the first questions to ask is if the pain is in your muscles or in your hard tissue, such as cartilage or joints.

It’s not always easy to tell where the pain is, which is why you may need to come in for a consultation before deciding on a course of treatment. For example, most people see a massage therapist or a chiropractor for back and neck pain. This pain can be muscular, such as in the case of a pulled muscle. However, it can also be the result of a slipped disc or due to a condition such as scoliosis. In that case, you need to see a chiropractor.

Man receiving a neck massage

Sometimes, the pain you’re dealing with may not be something you immediately connect to your back or neck. Headaches and migraines, for example, aren’t something you would instantly assume could be cured by massage or chiropractic care. However, some headaches are the result of misalignment. Seeing a chiropractor could provide instant pain relief.

There are even a number of medical conditions that massage and chiropractic care can improve. If you suffer from insomnia, you may have tried countless sleep aids and meditation techniques only to still end up tossing and turning all night.

A good massage may help release tension so you can relax. A chiropractor may also be able to help improve your blood flow, which in turn can help you get to sleep. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, and several other chronic conditions may also find that their illness improves after one or both of these types of treatment.


When You Need a Massage


Massages target soft muscle tissue, relieving muscle spasms and tension while creating a deep sense of peace and relaxation—but we don’t have to tell you that. Massages can be a great treat for yourself even if you don’t have chronic muscle pain or have been injured. In fact, many people have a regular massage on their schedule because of how relaxed it makes them feel.

Any time you feel tense, you can get a massage. There’s no need to see a doctor or have any pre-existing medical condition, although massages can be prescribed as part of a course of treatment. You do want to make certain the masseuse you go to is certified, of course, but you can get a massage at your convenience.


How Do Massages Work?


Unlike chiropractic care, massage therapy does not manipulate the spine; massages are meant for more mild and muscle-based ailments. So if you’re feeling stressed, tense, or worn down from too much work, a massage is an excellent option for you. During the massage, the masseuse will employ specific methods to release the tension stored in the muscles.

There are a number of different massage techniques out there, including Swedish, deep tissue, trigger point, and even options that use hot stones or combine massage with aromatherapy. You may want to try several options to see which one works best for you or discuss your massage needs with your doctor.


What Does a Massage Treat?


If you’ve had a massage before, you know massage therapy can help with anxiety, headaches, muscle strains, immune system resistance, and mild joint pain. The goal of a massage is to reduce the amount of pain and anxiety you feel.

Some people need massage for chronic pain that comes from injuries, while others may need a massage to help with stress or depression. Massage has been shown to help with conditions such as high blood pressure, sleep disorders, diabetes, and even the fatigue caused by cancer and chemotherapy.

After you get a massage, many people feel very relaxed and a little drowsy. On the other hand, some say they feel energized and are able to concentrate better than before. Either way, you should feel a reduction in pain and stress. Of course, this isn’t permanent, which is why many people do book regular sessions for massage therapy in Fort Collins.


When You Need a Chiropractor


Chiropractors, on the other hand, deal with issues related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. They focus on hard tissue, while massage works with soft tissue. One of the biggest reasons people visit a chiropractor is because they were injured in a car accident. These accidents often cause one or more discs in the back to become misaligned. A spinal manipulation realigns the back, relieving pain and allowing for an increase in mobility.

While some people may need to visit the chiropractor on a semi-regular basis, others may find that their issues are gone after several visits. It all depends on the source of your pain and how severe it is. You may find that after a few sessions, you feel great and don’t need to continue seeing your chiropractor. On the other hand, you may find that you have an old injury that flares up periodically, and when it does, you need to visit your chiropractor for relief.


How Does Chiropractic Care Work?


Chiropractors use manual spinal manipulation, as well as some massage techniques, to provide relief to their patients. Spinal manipulation involves using controlled force to manipulate your body’s joints.

This may sound painful, but typically chiropractic care is not. It isn’t moving your body in any unnatural way. Instead, the goal is to put your joints, discs, and other hard tissues back into their correct position. Chiropractic care may also involve some at-home exercises and even some dietary and nutritional changes.

Like massage, the goal of chiropractic care is to eliminate pain and improve your quality of life without surgery or medication. It is a viable treatment for many people. Some children may even benefit from chiropractic adjustments depending on what conditions they are dealing with.


What Does Chiropractic Care Treat?


Chiropractors can treat a wide range of issues, including tension, headaches, tendonitis, moderate joint pain, and even insomnia. Because of its ability to realign the spine, chiropractic care also helps to improve posture and lower the risk of spinal trauma, slipped discs, and sciatica.

If you have lost some of all mobility in a joint, a chiropractor can help restore at least some range of motion.

If your pain goes beyond the stresses of everyday life, directly affects your spine, or makes it difficult to perform simple, everyday activities, a chiropractor is a great choice. They provide adjustments that can relieve back pain and promote proper spinal alignment.

Within a few chiropractic sessions, you’ll see vast improvements in your levels of pain and discomfort, and you might just feel a little taller, too!


Making Use of Both


Because massage and chiropractic care focus on two different issues, you may find that you need to make use of both. Each option can provide you with pain relief and help restore your body’s ability to function normally. Many accidents damage the soft and hard tissues in the back, so you’ll need to work with both a massage therapist and a chiropractor.

A massage will loosen up your muscles and help you relax before your chiropractor performs an adjustment. In fact, having a massage right before an adjustment has been shown to help provide longer pain relief.

It’s not an either/or situation. When looking at chiropractic vs massage therapy, you will find that one isn’t better than the other. In fact, you can’t really even compare them since they focus on different things. Instead of comparing them to each other, compare them to your injuries and what you need to feel better.


Do These Treatments Really Help?


Unfortunately, both massage and chiropractic care are often not taken seriously. To some, a massage is something you get at a spa when you want a day off, not something that could treat your injuries. These same people may see chiropractors as “alternative medicine” that doesn’t work. Both of these views are wrong.

Medical studies have shown that massage and chiropractic care is effective in treating injuries and chronic conditions. If you have damage to your muscles, tendons, ligaments, or cartilage, you can certainly benefit from massage therapy, chiropractic care, or both.

If you’re worried about cost, your health insurance may actually cover both massage and chiropractic care if it is prescribed as part of your treatment plan. You will need to speak to your insurance company, of course, but you will likely find that if it is deemed medically necessary, your policy will cover at minimum a set number of treatments.


So Which Do You Choose?


Massage therapy and chiropractic provide relief for different systems of the body. The one that is right for you depends on your injury and what your body needs. If you have an injured muscle, you need massage therapy.

If you have a slipped disc, you need to see a chiropractor. As mentioned, these treatments can also be used in tandem for speedier healing from injury, improved muscular function, and deeper stress relief and relaxation. Plus, you can take care of both in one place.

With Scott Family Health, you get a different approach to healthcare. Our Loveland and Fort Collins integrative health centers offer top-notch chiropractic and massage services, as well as physical therapy and acupuncture—so no matter what ails you, we can deliver highly effective, drug-free care and excellent patient service.

Plus, with our variety of services and quality healthcare professionals, we can offer integrative health solutions for the whole family! Improve your health on multiple levels—schedule an appointment today!