Difference Between Chiropractic Massage and Massage Therapy

Chiropractic practice and massage therapy are some of the modalities that belong to the complementary and alternative medicine. These two complementary therapies were widely utilized by clients with chronic conditions to complement the conventional medical modalities. For those with the perspective of healing through a natural approach, the chiropractic adjustments and massages are their better option. The main similarity of the two is that both therapies rely heavily on using their hands for manual manipulation on specific areas of the body of the clients. The practitioners need to have a developed manual dexterity through practice. Recently, these two therapies have been integrated into one treatment protocol as it was proven that they synergistically have a positive effect on the relief of condition of the client. Meaning, that the therapeutic effect of the massage enhances that of the chiropractic manipulation. However, one should take note of the differences between the two:

The Health Care Providers

A chiropractor is a health professional who has to undergo an undergraduate four-year course plus another four-year course which is similar to a doctoral degree. This is coupled with a board exam and certifications which can vary from different areas. Thus, they are called as practitioners after they have fulfilled the requirements. They may also proceed to a residency program. They can also opt to specialize their practice to back pain, neck pain, joint pain, pediatrics, sports injuries and even in diagnostic imaging. Massage therapists, on the other hand, may just complete a certain number of hours of training. Then, after getting a license or certification, they can proceed with their practice. They may also specialize in one or more of the types of massage like the Swedish, Shiatsu, Sports massage and Deep Tissue massage. Thus, the chiropractors definitely have more intensive training and are usually referred to as medical practitioners or doctors.

The Nature of the Therapy

Chiropractic Massage Therapy

The chiropractic practice is built on the premise that a spinal joint dysfunction can interfere with the body’s function. Incorrect positioning of the spine can cause irritation of the nerves, swelling, and inflammation and muscle spasm. Chiropractic practice focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the conditions related to the musculoskeletal system as well as its relationship to the nervous system. Chiropractors deal mostly with the problems in the spine and its main modality is the spinal manipulation which is generally referred to as spinal adjustments. Chiropractors use various diagnostic tools such as X – ray, ultrasound and other methods of diagnosis to locate and confirm the location of misalignments in the spine and joints. Confirmation prior to the adjustments is a requirement. Then, various adjusting methods to correct spinal segments are performed.

Massage therapists knead the muscle using different techniques like petrissage, effleurage to relieve tension, stiffness, and pain. Massage therapists employ muscle squeezing, kneading, rocking, rolling, and shaking techniques. Massage therapists can address the issues in the muscular system such as muscular tension and spasms such as when muscles are strained. The outcome of such encounters are relief from pain and improve range of motion. Massage therapist focuses on the soft tissues and muscles but will not be able to manage misalignments of the spine or other bony structures. The manipulation of the therapist, however, will bring in relaxation of the muscles relieving its strain on the skeletal system such as the spine. However, they cannot manipulate the bone, especially the spine. They do not have the license for this scope of practice, unlike the chiropractors. However, they can recommend to the client to adopt other natural holistic treatment modalities.

The Clients

In some point of the client’s life, pain in the spine, neck, and joints is felt due to different underlying condition. Some acute conditions like accidents, strenuous athletic and workout activities can cause the sudden onset of pain. For some, the repetitive tasks activities (such as prolonged sitting, prolonged typing on a keyboard) strains the musculoskeletal system. For these types of clients. The types of clients will seek the services of the chiropractor and the massage therapist. Most clients with chronic back pain generally go to the chiropractor as this condition is a long-term in duration. The spine is a vital structure of the body and that the incorrect positioning of the vertebra can irritate the nerves and causes muscle spasm. The chiropractor can use manual or tools for the adjustments to manage the spinal misalignment problems. Chronic back pain and spinal problems are usually characterized by ingrained muscle patterns and muscle spasms. Chronic back pain can be due to the degenerative changes in the in the spine causing limited range of motion in the clients. The chiropractic adjustments can solve conditions like the subluxation or minor misalignment in the vertebra causing the pain. Chiropractors apply controlled and moderate pressure to the spine relieving the clients of pain in the back, in the neck and even headaches. For clients who has tensed muscles due to muscle spasms, a massage is definitely beneficial to relax the muscles that may impinge on the spine. These muscles can pull on the spine designing it. In the same manner, a misaligned spine can create muscle tensions and edema. The massage alone can relieve the client but they should refer to the chiropractor if the condition is not alleviated. Massages may also be beneficial for their subsequent visit with the chiropractor as the massage can relax the muscle and facilitate the spinal adjustments.

Chiropractic has a wider scope in the management of problem in the client, however, a massage can greatly augment the therapeutic effects of the spinal adjustments. As massage improves flexibility and promotes better range of motion for the client, these can facilitate the adjustment techniques of the chiropractor.