Is a Chiropractor a Doctor: The Differences Between a Doctor and Licensed Practitioner

If you’re considering a visit to a chiropractor, you probably have several questions. One of those probably includes the education of a chiropractor. Is a chiropractor the same as a doctor? What is the difference between a doctor and a licensed practitioner? It’s not exactly a cut and dry answer. Yes, a licensed practitioner is a doctor, but a very specific kind of doctor. Here are some differences and similarities between the two professions.

A Chiropractor has a more Specialized Education

By definition, a chiropractor is a professional who specializes in conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. For instance, many consider them to operate in a similar vein as optometrists or dentists, in that they specialize in a very specific part of the body. However, to become a licensed practitioner, chiropractors need the same four years of undergrad medical school as a medical doctor. They are also required to finish four years of postgraduate studies. Likewise, they take many of the same classes as medical doctors. In fact, their requirements include 10-13 years of medical education on average, which is just under the 15-17 years of training for medical doctors.

As a general rule, chiropractors perform their internships during their schooling. This is one of the differences as doctors usually perform these afterward. Even after completing this extensive education, both a chiropractor and a general practitioner must take continuing education courses.

A Chiropractor Cannot Prescribe Medication

You probably want to know if your chiropractor can prescribe medication. Typically, the law prohibits even licensed practitioners from prescribing medication. To provide patients with whole body care, they often partner with primary care physicians. This allows you receive prescriptions for medications as the need arises. For that reason, chiropractors are only required to take a couple classes in pharmacology and toxicology. This differs from medical doctors, who are required to take many more. However, in place of these toxicology classes, chiropractors receive additional training on adjusting techniques.

A Chiropractor has a more “Hands On” Approach to Medicine

Oftentimes, chiropractors take a more individualized approach to the care of their patients. For example, chiropractors manipulate the spine and other joints to relieve pain. They also prescribe exercises, relaxation techniques, and dietary regimens. In addition to this, they recommend natural and holistic remedies such as acupuncture and sometimes even electrical stimulation.

Generally, medical doctors tend to stay away from prescribing such methods. For isolated pain, doctors usually prescribe an oral pain reliever. This treatment provides patients with temporary relief. However, a customized chiropractic care plan often means a long-term solution. There’s even evidence that the therapy is safer than aspirin, muscle relaxers, and back surgery.

A Partnership Invested in Your Health

The trend is shifting towards a partnership between a general practitioner and chiropractor, which is ideal to the axiom that you have to choose one over the other. When your doctor partners with your chiropractor to give you more specialized care your experience and overall health improves.

While scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor looks decidedly different from a doctor it is still well worth your time. With extensive education and training, a licensed practitioner is qualified to diagnose and treat a variety of issues. Many chiropractic offices even staff medical doctors for the purpose of prescribing traditional medication. This partnership is guaranteed to meet all of your health needs.