The Joint Ventures' Blog

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Health Care

Monday, October 06, 2014

A multidisciplinary approach to medicine is something that is becoming more popular and widespread in the US today. The combination of multiple health care disciplines can be extremely beneficial to progress an individual’s healing at a more rapid pace than those who only rely on one area for assistance. Many of my patients ask me what the difference between physical therapy (PT) and chiropractic care is, or if they should try acupuncture or massage therapy in conjunction with PT. In order to clear up some of the gray areas, I have listed below a few basic descriptions to clarify what each health care discipline focuses on.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy refers to the health field involved in the identification of a single or multiple impairments and/or functional limitations and the remediation and rehabilitation of that dysfunction. The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to improve an individual’s ability to move, perform activities of daily living, and participate in recreational activities such as exercise without pain as a limiting factor. Physical therapists use a combination of manual techniques, therapeutic exercise, modalities, and neuromuscular re-education in order to improve an individual’s pain levels and overall mobility and strength.

Chiropractic Care: The American Chiropractic Association defines chiropractic care as a “health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health...Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.” Chiropractic care has a heavy emphasis on manual therapy and joint adjustment or mobilization in order to improve alignment in the body.

Acupuncture: The most common goal of acupuncture is to alleviate pain by strategically placing fine point needles into the skin. By inserting needles into very specific locations, it is thought to re-balance the flow of energy through the body. Western practitioners have another view on acupuncture and believe the acupuncture needles stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue which promote blood flow and increase the natural analgesic activity in the body.

Massage Therapy: Massage therapy involves the use of manual techniques to manipulate soft-tissue, affecting primarily muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body. Through various techniques such as kneading, stroking, myofascial release, deep tissue, and Swedish massage, massage therapists can aid in pain relief, injury rehabilitation, stress reduction, improved relaxation and overall wellness of individuals.


Now the question becomes, what is the right treatment option for you and your individual needs? Not every patient requires the help of all the disciplines listed above, however there are some instances in which more than one specialty could be very beneficial. If there is an alignment issue causing severe pain and disability, it would be beneficial to seek the advice of a chiropractor and from there, determine what the cause of the malalignment is. If the impairment is due to instability, physical therapy would help to provide a therapeutic exercise program to improve stability and prevent future injury. On the other hand, if the alignment issue is due to a spasming muscle, massage therapy may be a more appropriate referral.

If a multidisciplinary approach is taken and used appropriately, an individual can progress their rehabilitation more rapidly than if he or she tried one discipline at a time.  In addition, the combination of multiple disciplines tends to provide a more complete evaluation of the problem and provide an answer to prevent future injury from occurring. I have personally found that working at Joint Ventures with chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists has allowed me to more completely understand all of the areas of dysfunction which may be affecting my patient’s recovery and how I can most appropriately help in that person’s rehabilitation. I would recommend anyone with an injury to consider a multidisciplinary approach to their health with one caveat: Be sure the practitioners you seek out are licensed and knowledgeable professionals. Do not assume one massage therapist is the same as another or that all physical therapists are the same. Many practitioners have specialties and it is beneficial to you to do your research or ask for help in doing so. This will help you in the long run and enhance your road to recovery if you make decisions about your health carefully and with sound judgment.


If you have any questions about multidisciplinary approach to health care, please stop by the Post Office Square location or e-mail me at Casey.Heffernan@JointVenturesPT.com 

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Boston A-List WINNER

Friday, August 09, 2013

The people have spoken! On August 5th 2013 Joint Ventures Physical Therapy and Fitness was awarded the 1st Place honor for Best Massage on Boston's A-list.  

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