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

Chiropractor versus Doctor comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartChiropractorDoctor
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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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