Comparing and Contrasting Chiropractors and Medical Doctors

Comparing and Contrasting Chiropractors and Medical Doctors

There are allied health care professions in which the practitioners hold doctorate degrees but are not medical doctors. A chiropractor is an example of a “nonmedical doctor,” along with psychologists, optometrists, dentists, and podiatrists.

However, while chiropractors and doctors alike may not feel that they have much in common with one another, there are some similarities between the two. Nevertheless, the similarities may seem superficial, while the differences tend to be much more significant.

Comparing Chiropractors and Medical Doctors

Both chiropractors and medical doctors require several years of postgraduate study. For a chiropractor, this involves five years of chiropractic school, while for an MD it involves four to five years of medical school plus several years of residency. Chiropractors are not required to serve a residency, though it is an option if they wish it. However, both chiropractors and MDs must serve a one-year internship.

Medical doctors and chiropractors both require licensing from their respective board before practicing. Both can practice in hospital settings as well as at private clinics. However, there is a larger focus on practicing in hospitals for doctors than for chiropractors. In other words, a hospital must have MDs on staff, but chiropractors are considered optional.

Chiropractic treatment consists of conservative (i.e., nonsurgical) care. While medical doctors may perform and/or recommend surgery, most will typically try a course of conservative treatment beforehand, only resorting to surgery as a last resort.

Contrasting Chiropractors and Medical Doctors

Chiropractors earn a specific degree called a Doctor of Chiropractic. However, even though chiropractors can legitimately call themselves “doctors,” the DC is not a medical degree. This means that chiropractors cannot perform some of the medical services that MDs do.

Most particularly, a doctor of chiropractic can typically neither prescribe medications nor perform surgery on patients. There is one notable exception: Chiropractors recently gained limited prescription rights in the state of New Mexico.

MDs and chiropractors have different underlying theories and philosophies regarding patient care. The focus of traditional medicine is often on symptomatic treatment. Chiropractic care operates according to the theory that the body has significant potential to heal itself, and the treatment involved is intended to facilitate that healing to the extent possible. Therefore, treating patients with medications or surgery is not really consistent with the philosophy underpinning chiropractic care, and most chiropractors probably wouldn’t prescribe medications even if the law allowed it.

Chiropractic is a form of complementary medicine. Though chiropractors and medical doctors use different methods, the goal of improving patients’ health is the same. Therefore, many medical doctors and chiropractors are able to cooperate with one another to optimize patient outcomes. To find out how chiropractic can work into your existing plan of care, contact an office like the ones at the office of the chiropractors in Dundalk, MD,  today.

Thank you to the experts at Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic for their insight into chiropractic care.