When you’re experiencing muscle or joint pain, a massage doesn’t always do it. Persistent cases might call for something more intensive, like going to the chiropractor or acupuncturist.

Not sure what kind of professional to see? Here’s everything you need to about chiropractic treatments and acupuncture.

How does it work?
“Acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments both manipulate the neuromusculoskeletal system with the aim of treating problems throughout the body,” says Keith Sparks of ICT Muscle & Joint Clinic. Here’s the difference:

Chiropractic treatment
A chiropractor will press on the body part that’s hurting to move the joints and sometimes create a physical therapy plan.

When you get acupuncture, the acupuncturist inserts tiny needles into specific points on your skin on various muscles and tissues that connect different parts of your body. Acupuncture might be better suited to people who can’t take a lot of pressure on their bodies or those with pain in muscles and tissues that can’t be adjusted through chiropractic.

Both of these processes work not only to alleviate pain in the muscles, joints, ligaments, and nervous system, but also to improve flexibility, energy, posture, and coordination. “When one part of the body is in pain, the rest of the body usually adjusts so we can work around it,” Sparks explains. By drawing the brain’s attention to the part that’s hurting, acupuncture and chiropractic allow it to heal and let the rest of the body go back to normal.

Does it hurt?
Chiropractic adjustments can leave you sore if it engages an area you haven’t used in a while. Acupuncture can also cause short-term pain during the insertion of the needle. “Some people, however, will experience no pain at all with either,” says Sparks. This will depend on your sensitivity to pain.

Are there any risks?
“There have been cases of bones fractured through chiropractic, but that’s very rare,” says Sparks. With acupuncture, you just have to make sure the needles are sterile because you’re introducing a foreign object to your body.

How expensive is it?
Acupuncture tends to be slightly more expensive, ranging from $50 to $150 per visit, while chiropractic adjustments are usually between $20 and $75 — though it’ll depend on your insurance plan, how experienced the practitioner is, and what specific treatments you need.

Does it work?
“Both can be extremely effective and absolutely ineffective,” says Sparks. This largely comes down to the practitioner, so make sure to get a referral or read online reviews before you pick one!

xx, The FabFitFun Team