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Are Chiropractors Real Doctors?

So, you might have asked before, “Are chiropractors doctors?” The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It depends on what you mean by “doctor.” You see when most people hear “doctor,” they think of someone who went to medical school, did an internship, a residency, and got an M.D. degree. Chiropractors, on the other hand, don’t follow that exact path, so they’re not called “medical doctors.”

Instead, they’re known as “chiropractors” or “doctors of chiropractic.” They focus on taking care of people using natural and non-invasive treatments, like adjusting your spine. So, in a way, they are doctors, but not the same kind of doctors you might think of. They’re professionals who really care about their patients and want to help them feel better.

What degree do chiropractors hold?

Chiropractors hold a “Doctor of Chiropractic” (D.C.) degree. This professional degree is the core qualification for chiropractic practice. To earn a D.C. degree, individuals typically complete a rigorous program of study that includes subjects like anatomy, physiology, biology, and hands-on training in chiropractic techniques. It’s important to note that a Doctor of Chiropractic is not the same as a medical doctor (M.D.), but it signifies that chiropractors are highly trained healthcare professionals specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, with a particular focus on spinal health. This degree equips chiropractors with the knowledge and skills needed to provide natural and non-invasive care to their patients.

What Conditions and Illnesses are treated by chiropractors?

Many forms of spinal disorders that cause musculoskeletal or nerve pain are diagnosed and treated by chiropractors. A chiropractor, like other doctors, conducts a physical and neurological examination as part of his or her process of determining a correct diagnosis. To validate your diagnosis, X-rays, MRI or CT scan tests may be ordered. Below are some illnesses that are treated by chiropractors as compared to doctors;

  • Back and Neck Pain
  • Cervicogenic headaches
  • Short Leg Syndrome
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Sciatic
  • Whiplash
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Myofascial pain
  • Spinal osteoarthritis

What is the treatment methodology of a chiropractor?

Chiropractic adjustments are a drug-free, natural way for chiropractors to help patients relieve pain and enhance mobility. Chiropractic adjustments are extremely successful at restoring joint function and mobility, resulting in a greater range of motion and pain relief. Chiropractic focuses on strengthening the neurological system of the body so that it can function at its best and eliminate inflammation. However, chiropractors think that surgery and medical therapy should only be used as a last resort.

Below are some of the different types of chiropractic adjustments used by chiropractors, and they include:

The Diversified Technique

The three major goals of the diversified technique are to correct spinal alignment, treat joint dysfunction, and assure adequate movement and mobility. Practitioners can restore spinal alignment and increase a patient’s range of motion, which may be hampered by misaligned joints or bones, by using extremely precise hands-on thrusts.

Spinal Manipulation

Chiropractors often use spine manipulation to relieve joint pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve nerve function. While spinal mobilization is a manual treatment approach similar to the diversified technique mentioned earlier, it involves more gentle thrusting strokes and stretching.

The Gonstead Adjustment

Chiropractors often use Gonstead Adjustment to restore normal disc alignment and mobility. It can be given to the patient whether they are sitting or lying on the floor. It’s one of the best types of  adjustments used by chiropractors.


The Flexion-Distraction technique involves using a special table to gently distract and rhythmically flex the spine. Symptomatic disc injuries with back pain and leg pain are routinely treated with this method. The adjustment is painless and even pleasant, making it an excellent choice for individuals who have recently sustained injuries or who are sensitive to other types of adjustments.

Spinal Decompression

Spinal decompression involves lying down on a special table that gently stretches the spine, allowing water, oxygen, and other necessary fluids to flow freely into the discs and throughout the spine. It is quite effective in the treatment of symptoms of bulging, herniated, degenerative, and slipped discs in the lower back.

Can chiropractors prescribe medicines or pain killers?

Chiropractors prefer not to use painkillers regularly. Instead, they use natural methods to help with pain. They often do something called “spinal adjustments” where they gently move your spine to make you feel better.

The reason they avoid painkillers is that these medicines can have side effects when used often. Side effects might include stomach problems, getting addicted, or needing more and more of the medicine for the same relief. Chiropractors want to address the real reasons for your pain and help your body heal itself.

So, they provide a drug-free treatment for people looking to help with muscle and bone issues without relying on painkillers. Their goal is to offer natural and holistic care to make you feel better.

Can chiropractors order MRIs?

Many people go to a chiropractor when they’re dealing with body aches or discomfort. But sometimes, making adjustments to your body isn’t the best choice, and it can even be a bit risky. In such cases, a chiropractor might suggest getting an MRI, which is a special type of scan.

An MRI can give really important information about what’s going on inside your body. So, if a chiropractor thinks it’s necessary, they can ask you to get one.

Chiropractors often use hands-on tests and X-rays to check how your spine is doing. But sometimes, these tests can’t tell the whole story, and they might miss what’s really causing your discomfort. That’s when the MRI comes in handy. It helps to get a more detailed look to figure out the exact problem.


Chiropractors and medical doctors are quite similar in some ways. They both want to help people feel better, but they have different approaches.

Medical doctors mainly deal with treating sickness and diseases. Chiropractors, however, focus on the person as a whole. They work on fixing issues in the nervous system, which can also help with other health problems. In contrast, medical doctors concentrate on studying the body’s tissues.

The biggest difference is how they treat issues. Medical doctors often use surgery and medicines to manage symptoms, while chiropractors use natural, gentle methods and encourage a healthy lifestyle to get to the root of the problem. So, they both have their unique ways of helping people get well.

About The Author
photo of Dr Oscar Noriega DC
Dr. Oscar Noriega, DC, is a trusted chiropractor who has been practicing for over ten years at Revolution Chiropractic Murfreesboro. He holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University. Dr. Noriega is also a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the Tennessee Chiropractic Association. He resides in Murfreesboro with his wife and two children.