Spine Doctor vs. Chiropractor

Sep 8, 2020

Spine Doctor vs. ChiropractorWhen you are suffering from back and neck pain, the last thing you want to do is have to worry about what type of doctor you should see. Whether you were in a car accident and are continuing to experience symptoms of whiplash, or you have an old injury that is causing chronic back pain, there are many doctors out there who say they can treat your pain. When it comes to neck and back pain, consider seeking medical care from a spine doctor or a chiropractor in Atlanta and learn more about how these two doctors are similar and different from one another.

How Spine Doctors and Chiropractors are Similar

Injuries and Symptoms Treated

Spine doctors, also known as orthopedic doctors who specialize in the spine, and chiropractors both focus on the spine and the musculoskeletal system surrounding and supporting the spine. Spine doctors and chiropractors treat many similar types of injuries, chronic pain, and other illnesses with symptoms of spine and neck pain. Both doctors not only treat pain in the spine itself, but also identify how surrounding soft tissues are affected and seek to provide relief in those areas as well.

Treatment Goals

Whether you see a spine doctor or a chiropractor, both have the ultimate goal of helping to relieve the pain you are feeling so you can experience long-term healing and recovery. When you go to either doctor with pain in your back and neck, they will want to assess the affected areas and develop a treatment plan that works with your particular symptoms. Both orthopedic doctors and chiropractors in Atlanta will use diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays to help support the diagnosis and better identify all affected areas. Chiropractors and spine doctors don’t just want to temporarily relieve your pain; they want to identify the source of the pain and provide treatment that will give long-lasting results.


Both chiropractors and spine doctors work with other medical providers to ensure you are getting the quality care you deserve. In many back and neck injury cases, this includes referrals to physical therapists who can assist in the recovery process. You want to find a doctor who is not only highly knowledgeable and skilled in their area of expertise, but also one who is willing to include other medical professionals to help with other aspects of treatment and recovery. It is also not uncommon for an orthopedic doctor to refer you to an Atlanta chiropractor, or vice versa, in order to provide more healing options.

How Spine Doctors and Chiropractors Are Different

Treatment Techniques

While a spine doctor and a chiropractor in Atlanta have the same treatment goal of relieving your pain, the way they go about it can vary. For example, chiropractors offer a non-invasive, natural approach to pain relief. They focus on identifying misalignments in the spine that may be causing pain, discomfort, or even nerve damage, and use gentle adjustment techniques to re-align the spine. Chiropractic treatments focus on restoring the spine to its proper positioning so that the body can begin to heal itself.

An orthopedic doctor will use a combination of techniques more commonly associated with traditional medicine, including pain medication for pain management, physical therapy techniques, and in more serious cases, injections or minimally invasive spine surgery. A spine doctor may use medication for pain management in addition to other techniques in order to alleviate your symptoms in the short term while still addressing the root cause of the pain.

Surgical Options

Spine doctors are able to offer surgical options for those whose injuries, illnesses, or chronic pain do not respond well to less invasive options. While a spine doctor can recommend, and in many cases perform, spinal surgery, a chiropractor is not involved in surgery at all. Depending on the severity of your injury or reason for your back and neck pain, surgery may be your best option in which case an orthopedic doctor may be the better option for you. However, both doctors will utilize more conservative, non-invasive approaches at first because these types of treatments will require far less recovery time and impact on your daily life.

Whether you decide on a chiropractor or a spine doctor to help treat your back and neck pain, you can trust their training and education have both focused extensively in treating the spine and its surrounding musculature. At AICA Orthopedics, you also get the unique experience of having both spine doctors and chiropractors in Atlanta on your treatment team. We offer a multi-specialty approach to treating your pain and all our doctors work together to provide you the best treatment and care possible. So call us today to learn more about how our team of spine doctors and chiropractors can help you!