Neck and shoulder pain are treated by doctors who specialize in the musculoskeletal system. They include doctors of osteopathic medicine, chiropractors and physical therapists.
Neck and shoulder pain can be a result of injury from work, playing sports or a car accident, and it could also be due to a deformity of the spine, disc compression or arthritis.
A doctor of osteopathic medicine, also known as a D.O. or doctor of orthopedics, must complete eight years of training in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. A doctor with this training can specialize in sports medicine, treating athletes and their injuries or performing surgery to correct skeletal and joint conditions.
Chiropractors are doctors get 4 years of undergraduate education and then four more years studying in a chiropractic college. Chiropractors adjust the musculoskeletal system to treat the whole body, focusing on holistic, natural, non-surgical treatments such as massage therapy, ultrasound, electric therapy, acupuncture and heat therapy.
A physical therapist is either trained as a doctor or has completed six years of an accredited physical therapy program. A doctor may send a patient to a physical therapist for treatment of neck and shoulder pain. Physical therapists put patients through a series of exercises and stretches to treat their condition. They can also do many of the same types of treatments as can chiropractors.
There are some differences between the types of doctors who treat neck and shoulder pain. Osteopathic doctors and chiropractors can both do X-rays and diagnose conditions. Physical therapists usually treat the patient after a doctor has already made the diagnosis. Osteopathic doctors are the only ones who can perform surgery to correct conditions.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of The U.S. Army
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