Have you ever wondered, “Are chiropractors real doctors?” Are you curious to know if a chiropractor can address your health concerns? Are you looking for drug-free answers to better health?
First, it’s important to understand that chiropractic and medicine are not the same specialty. Chiropractors are legally classified as Doctors of Chiropractic, but the two fields are different in many ways.
The biggest contrast is in how they approach patient care. Medical doctors prescribe medication for most health issues. Chiropractors, on the other hand, usually seek to provide drug-free solutions.
It’s okay to consult a chiropractor first for some health problems. In most cases, you don’t need a referral from a physician to consult a chiropractor.
A good chiropractor will know what kinds of issues can and cannot be handled by natural methods.
Are Chiropractors Real Doctors In Terms Of Education?
There is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to chiropractic education.
Chiropractic college is intense. Few people know what we really go through to become licensed doctor’s of chiropractic.
Chiropractors spend an average of 8 years in college. Furthermore, many doctor’s of chiropractic continue learning beyond the D.C. degree in other specialized areas.
We also must pass 4 rigorous national board exams before obtaining a license to practice chiropractic.
Take a look at this chart comparing the education of chiropractors vs. medical doctors.
As you can see, chiropractic training is quite extensive.
I’m not showing you this chart to imply that chiropractors are better than medical doctors. I’m also not saying that we are qualified to give you medical advice.
We cannot diagnose or treat medical illnesses like cancer or heart disease. We also cannot prescribe medication.
I simply want to illustrate that chiropractors go through a pretty grueling program for our training.
We prefer natural, drug-free methods to help our patients anyway. It is in this area that we really shine.
Are Chiropractors Real Doctors In Terms Of What They Treat?
Not all, but many chiropractors don’t like to use the word “treat.” That’s because we aim to do more than just relieve symptoms like pain.
Instead, our programs are designed to naturally strengthen the body as a whole so it can better heal itself.
If one of my patients has diabetes, I might encourage her to eat a certain diet, do certain types of exercise, and/or take specific supplements. The goal isn’t to treat the disease, but simply help the body work better.
This will improve function is many different areas and increase wellness overall.
So rather than focus on the illness, we focus on helping the patient get healthy. As a result, the body can better manage whatever disease is present.
It’s probably best that I’m not considered a “real doctor” by some, because medical doctors get little to no training in any of these areas.
In my opinion, chiropractors are the most qualified health professionals to lead the world in natural health.
When To See A Chiropractor First
There are plenty of people who don’t think chiropractors are real doctors and don’t even consider seeing anyone but an M.D. for their health problems.
This is unfortunate because science has shown that chiropractic can be more effective than medicine for some issues.
In my article Is My Back Pain An Emergency, I list some symptoms that should prompt a visit to a medical physician. They’re worth repeating here.
- A sudden, intense headache.
- Worsening weakness in arms or legs.
- Pain in one leg along with swelling, warmth, and redness.
- Neck pain paired with slurred speech, dizziness, vision problems, or nausea.
- Sudden lower back pain accompanied by bladder or bowel problems.
- Worsening pain in the lower back plus fever and/or nausea.
- Back or neck pain after an injury with sudden weakness, tingling, or numbness in arms or legs.
A visit to a chiropractor is probably okay if none of these symptom groups apply to you. Likewise if you’ve been to a medical doctor for pain with no results.
1) In the Annals of Internal Medicine, chiropractic was more effective than medication for acute neck pain. Data showed this was true over both the short and long term (1).
2) In another study, chiropractic was more effective than going to the hospital for patients with severe back pain (2).
3) In the New England Journal of Medicine, patients were more satisfied with chiropractic than primary care providers and orthopedic surgeons (3).
A Final Word
When someone says that chiropractors aren’t real doctors, what they’re really inferring is that we aren’t as good as medical doctors.
The fact is that we are just different. We view the human body differently and we use unique methods to help our patients.
Many of my patients are simply looking to achieve better health without medication.
A desire to provide this type of care is why we become chiropractors in the first place.
*None of what you read on this website should be considered medical advice. If you make any changes to your life or health regimen because of something you read here, please do so under the guidance of a licensed health professional.