Chiropractor vs. Doctor


Are chiropractors "doctors"? Yes and No. They are doctors similar to non-medical "doctors" in other allied health care professions like optometry, podiatry, dentistry and psychology. Chiropractors usually have the academic degree of "Doctor of Chiropractic", which is awarded after an average of 8 years of university training.

However, medical doctors are allowed to prescribe medication while chiropractors are not (except in a few states, usually nutritional and homeopathic items). The scope of what medical treatment and procedures chiropractors are allowed to perform varies by state.

Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart



Residency and Internship One-year internship that coincides with clinical courses while in training. NO Residency required, but have the option to complete if accepted and desire to. One-year internship required, and 3-8 years of residency required for further specialization.
Practice Private practice clinics, generally. However, some are employed by health systems and hospitals. Generalist practice, neurology related, orthopedic related, and general alignment restoration dealing with the skeletal system. Same as Chiropractors but with larger focus at hospitals and clinics.
Can prescribe medication No. New Mexico recently allowed limited prescription rights to DCs Medical physicians (D.O., M.B.B.S., M.D.) can prescribe all medication.
Medical Licensing Exam (MLE) National Board Exam (NBCE). Parts I, II, III IV (practical) and state boards. USMLE or COMLEX (depending on specific medical degree) plus specialty boards after residency.
Treatment Techniques Chiropractic adjustment (grade I-V) ranging from soft tissue mobilization to joint adjustment. Electrical Stimulation. Acupuncture, Pain Management Extensive knowledge of general medicine, including knowledge of HEENT, Pulmonary, Cardiac, Vascular, Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Neurological, Psychiatric, Musculoskeletal, Endocrine, and dermatologic medicine
Years of medical school 4-5 undergraduate years (Bachelor's required / state dependent), 5 Chiropractic school, 1 year residency, minimum 10 years 4 years of undergraduate. 4-5 years of medical school. 3-8 years of Residency. Some may choose to do an additional fellowship as well. Minimum 11 years study for basic Family physician. Minimum 13-16+ years for any other specialty.
Status DC stands for Doctor of Chiropractic. They are not medical doctors, however for insurance purposes, some states consider chiropractors health care providers, some do not. All physicians are doctors. Some physicians are Primary Care Physicians, while others are specialists.
Surgery Minor surgery in some states. DCs are non-pharmacologic and non-surgical clinicians who are experts at conservative treatments within their scope of practice. However, do perform MUA in surgical setting. Specialists have full surgical rights in their area of expertise.
Specialization Orthopedics, Pediatrics, General Rehab, Internal Disorders, Radiology, Neurology, Nutrition, Occupational Health, Sports Med, Forensic Sciences. ENT, Ophthalmology, Anesthesia, Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Neurology, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Nephrology, Endocrinology, Pathology, Gastroenterologyl, Urology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Psychiatry, Family Medicine
For more information Chiropractors are organized by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). All information above was taken from this website. American Medical Association (AMA) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
Board Certification National exam, Chiropractic Board at the State level and Diplomate specialty boards. Medical Board at the State level and National specialty boards.

Contents: Chiropractor vs Doctor

edit Definition

A chiropractor is a professional who diagnoses conditions that affect the body and musculoskeletal. In contract, a medical doctor is a medical professional who is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries of the whole body. There are different types of medical doctors, such as psychiatrists pediatricians, neurologists, cardiologists, and so on, depending upon further studies in different areas of specialization. There are also different types of doctors of chiropractic, such as radiologists, orthopedists, sports medicine specialists, pediatricians, and so on, who require further studies and the passing of national examinations.

edit Differences in Medical Education and Training

The academic degree for chiropractors is called the "Doctor of Chiropractic", referred to as "DC". The World Health Organization (WHO) also lists other potential paths for pursuing this full time: B.Sc (Chiro) a 5-year integrated bachelor program and a 2-3 Masters program (M.Sc. Chiro) following a bachelor’s degree. Candidates can apply to a DC program after completing a four-year undergraduate degree. The DC Program is a four or five-year full time program. Post-graduate residency is available in specialized spheres of chiropractic like orthopaedics, radiology and neurology. Although chiropractic is the third largest doctor level health care profession, it suffers from having less credibility than other medical professions due to some chiropractic practitioners' rejection of evidence-based medicine.

American physicians are awarded the Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) or the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (DO). Both of these degrees are awarded after four years of medical school. Candidates are required to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), and complete a four year undergraduate program in order to be eligible for a medical school program. Before graduating, students are required to take the COMLEX (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination) and/or the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) Parts 1 and 2. Also a minimum of one year of internship (PGY-1) and USMLE Step 3/COMLEX Level 3 examinations are required before practicing in the United States. Further specialization requires 3-8 years of training and residency.

edit Differences in Treatment Techniques and Specialization

Chiropractors use at least 20 types of procedures to treat the human body. They often manipulate the spine and other joints during these treatments, under the notion that doing so will relieve pain and perhaps even have curative effects. Exercises, relaxation techniques, dietary regimens, electrical stimulation, and sometimes acupuncture are also common kinds of treatment prescribed or carried out by chiropractors.

Medical physicians can specialize in various areas and treatments that vary depending on the type of disease and age group. Specialists such as paediatricians treat children, internists specialize in internal medicine for adults, dermatologists treat disease and conditions pertaining to the skin, oncologists specialize in diagnosing and treating cancer, and so on. Treatments include, but are not limited to, diagnosing and prescribing drugs, surgical treatments, and other therapies that are beyond the scope of this article.

edit Is Chiropractic Pseudoscience?

Chiropractic is sometimes seen as a pseudoscience compared to conventional medicine's "real science." In 2013, the Australian science journalism show, Catalyst, investigated chiropractic medicine's history and modern day claims.

edit Board certification for a medical doctor vs doctor of chiropractic

In the United states, Canada and Australia, licensing or registration is done at the state level before practicing. Chiropractic schools are accredited through the Council for Chiropractic Education (CCE) and regional accreditation agencies.

edit References

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"Chiropractor vs Doctor." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015. < >

Related Comparisons Follow Diffen
Top 5 Comparisons
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »

Comments: Chiropractor vs Doctor

Anonymous comments (7)

May 16, 2014, 12:49am

MD implies medical doctor, so the education is geared towards helping people with such interventions as pharmaceutical drugs which are controlled by the FDA. Some MD's can specialize in an area such as podiatry or brain surgery which would require a more focused education in that area and would take longer to complete. A DC is a doctor of chiropractic, so the education is aimed at helping people with their hands ( chiro meaning hands). Their education involves a focus on non-invasive approaches with a greater emphasis on treatments that result in fewer side effects than those of the chemicals in pharmaceuticals. It is however an education that requires more educational credit hours than most medical schools, some being a five year curriculum beyond undergraduate level. The educational approaches for these health practitioners are different resulting in different approaches to treating their patients. MD's are taught a paradigm concerned with diagnoses and palliative approaches, and whenever possible, of course, a curative approach is taken to resolve health issues. DC'c are taught a paradigm concerned with prevention of chronic disease by being an educator to the patient so that the patient takes a responsible approach toward their own health and well being. Another significant difference is that MD's primarily treat people who have a sickness, but a chiropractor can also treat those looking to step up to optimal health. There is actually more evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation helps correct back pain than any other health approach available. Search for solid, reputable, research like randomized controlled trials and you will find the truth. Don’t place too much clout in the multiple case studies and case reviews that fill science with questionable outcomes.

— 67.✗.✗.84

February 11, 2013, 4:45pm

“Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” ..Hippocrates, 460-377 BC.

Any attempt to overcome the ignorance of individuals who know nothing about the academic or clinical education of Chiropractors is a futile effort. Continued attempts to validate the profession against the opposition of those that would rather mask and address symptoms that identify causes are useless. People cannot hear what they do not wish to listen to.

— 76.✗.✗.191

October 17, 2012, 6:48pm

The very fact that chiropractors always feel the need to defend the legitimacy of their profession is pretty telling. Fortune tellers also insist that those who denounce fortune-telling are ignorant and misguided. Auto mechanics, on the other hand, don't have to convince everyone that they aren't quacks...the fact that they make cars work speaks for itself. I have had plenty of experience with both DC's and MD's - just my two cents here.

— 71.✗.✗.11

July 18, 2010, 1:58pm

Chiropractic defines itself as being a drugless profession. To minimize the profession by saying they cannot prescribe drugs is illogical. The values of the profession are simply focused on optimizing the bodies natural healing capacity. As far as high blood pressure, the University of Chicago did a study published in 2007 under George Bakris, M.D., director of the University of Chicago hypertension center where he concluded (and I quote): "This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination. We saw no side effects and no problems." As far as cancer goes, I'm sure there have been a few chiropractors over the past 100 years that have overstepped their scope. But having seen my own grandmother killed by medical doctors after they caused her heart to stop with anesthetic, punctured her lung while installing a pacemaker and gave her septicemia (which killed her) in the course of the surgery... medicine has no high ground to stand on here.

— 98.✗.✗.165

July 13, 2010, 1:57pm

You wrote - Are chiropractors "doctors"? Yes, similar to non-medical "doctors" in other allied health care professions like optometry, podiatry, dentistry
, psychology, etc.
You must be joking. Chiropractors cannot prescribe drugs except in a very few jurisdictions. In those jurisdictions, the drugs they are allowed to prescribe are largely homeopathic, vitamin supplements, etc. They are much more limited than Physician's Assistants for instance, or many nurses in their ability to prescribe drugs. To compare them to dentist or podiatrists is absurd. Chiropractors cannot perform ANY invasive procedures. Dental specialists, e.g. maxilofacial oral surgeons are involved in major surgery. chiropractors "tend to pride themselves on not relying on medication" speaks volumes. So, treat hypertension with spinal manipulation? Well they did it just a few decades ago, as well as cancer. That's the problem: they fool people into accepting chiropractic when they need real medical treatment

— 164.✗.✗.3

December 9, 2013, 1:45pm

Are chiropractors "doctors"? Yes and No. I read further about the Yes part, but didn't see any explanation for the No. I am a doctor of chemistry. Should I put my title in quotes like the article does? Would that mean that I am not a real "doctor"?

— 76.✗.✗.248

July 11, 2013, 6:32pm

Docror of physchology... Lol. I will heal you with words, hallelujah! Doctors of chiropractic are creating wellness and health all over the world naturally! I have seen people with carpal tunnel, sciatica, horrendous disc injuries, headaches/migraines, plantar fasciitis, trigeminal neuralgia, adhesive capsulitis, chronic knee pain, chronic ankle pain, neck pain etc. Be completely symptom free through chiropractic care. I have had patients come in who were taking 80 mg oxycontin for their pain get completely off medication. Do you know that more people die from prescription drugs than heroin, crack, cocaine all cbined!? Numb the brains of america and you are healer lol. I had a patient that the doctors couldn't figure out her issue so they put her on antidepressants to numb her brain as a hope to decrease pain... 3 weeks in my office and she was running 4 miles a day pain free.

— 75.✗.✗.245


Up next

Doctor of Medicine (MD) vs. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)