Are Chiropractors Really Doctors?

Apr 22, 2014

Chiropractors, who are often referred to as doctors of Chiropractic’s, are sometimes confused with medical doctors.

While there are similarities between the two professions, there are also some major differences.

Chiropractors are similar to doctors in other health care professions such as dentistry, podiatry, and optometry, and they typically have a degree of “Doctor of Chiropractic.”

However, medical doctors have the ability to prescribe medications, while Chiropractors do not.

Additional facts also help to differentiate between chiropractic doctors and medical doctors.

Chiropractic Medicine

Both doctors of chiropractic and medical doctors practice in similar fields.

Chiropractors are often found in private practice clinics, although others are employed within hospitals and health systems. Medical doctors often focus more on the hospital and medical systems, although some are still employed in private practices.


Like medical doctors, chiropractors often choose an area of specialization. Many of these specialties mirror those that are studied by M.D.s:

  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Radiology
  • Occupational Health
  • Sports Medicine

Treatment Techniques

Chiropractors focus on treating patients with chiropractic adjustments, and these can include joint adjustment and tissue mobilization. Some may use specialized techniques like acupuncture and electrical stimulation.

Doctors, on the other hand, treat their patients with their extensive knowledge of medicine, including knowledge of the following bodily systems:

  • Endocrine
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Psychiatric
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Pulmonary
  • Cardiac
  • Vascular


Both Chiropractors and medical doctors are required to complete a bachelor’s degree before moving on to their specialized school. Chiropractic school typically lasts four years, which is similar to that of medical school.

However, medical doctors then complete 3-8 years of residency, while the average Chiropractor will only complete one year of residency.


Like a medical doctor, doctors of Chiropractic also need to be fully licensed in order to practice.Chiropractors need to pass the

Chiropractors need to pass the NBCE, or National Board Exam. This exam consists of four parts, one of which is a practical exam, and they will also need to take state boards.Similarly, medical doctors need to complete a national exam and specialty boards after they complete their residency.

Similarly, medical doctors need to complete a national exam and specialty boards after they complete their residency.