Difference between Chiropractors and Doctors

Chiropractors and Doctors sound similar to most people, but they are not the same. Chiropractors do not hold an M.D, so they are not considered medical doctors, but they do graduate with a doctor of chiropractic degree which is awarded to them after 8 years of university training. As we know medical doctors are allowed to prescribe medication while chiropractors are not allowed to do so, except in a few cases that are usually nutritional and homeopathic items.

Who is a Chiropractor?

A Chiropractor is a healthcare professional who mainly focuses on and cares for the patient's neuromuscular system which is the nerves, muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. A chiropractor helps manage back and neck pain by using spinal adjustments to main a good alignment. They mostly seek to reduce pain and increase the body functioning of the patient as well as educate them on how they can look after their physical health and well−being ergonomics, excessive and use other therapies to treat pain.

A chiropractor mainly focuses on the body’s ability to self−heal and may include other treatments like exercise and nutrition. Chiropractors believe that the benefits of spinal adjustment and realigning joints improve the body's overall functioning.

Who is a Doctor?

A doctor is known as a professional physician who seeks out various methods and implements them to better the health of his patients. A doctor provides medical, therapeutic, and surgical care to his patients. Individuals who are doctors perform several practices like examining the patient, diagnosing the problem, and identifying the various disorders and diseases to provide accurate treatment.

In terms of career, a doctor is a clinical professional whose main aim is to provide services in healthcare facilities.

Difference: Chiropractor and Doctor

The following table highlights how a Chiropractor is different from a Doctor −

Chiropractor/Doctor Chiropractor Doctor
Practice Chiropractors’ practice is private practice clinics and occasionally in hospitals. Doctors largely practice in hospitals and clinics.
Can they prescribe medication Chiropractors are prohibited from prescribing any drug with minor exceptions that vary by state. But they are allowed to prescribe food concentrates/extracts and natural medication. Medical physicians with qualifications like M.B.B.S, D.O, and M.D can prescribe all sorts of medication.
Different treatment techniques They may manipulate, adjust or treat the human body by mechanical, electrical, natural, or manual methods by using physiotherapy, nutrition or exercise, acupuncture and by including laser. Extensive knowledge of medicine is needed including knowledge of gastrointestinal, neurological, vascular, cardiac, HEENT, pulmonary, neurological, dermatological medicine, endocrine, psychiatric, musculoskeletal and genitourinary.
Specialisation Chiropractors mainly specialise in Pediatrics, General Rehab, Nutrition, Occupational Health, Radiology, Orthopedics, Sports Med, Forensic Sciences, Neurology Doctors mainly specialise in Pulmonology, Nephrology, ENT, Ophthalmology, Anaesthesia, Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Gynaecology and more
Status/recognition They are legally recognised as physicians. They analyse and diagnose the human living body and it’s diseases by the use of physical or chemical laboratory analysis. All physicians are doctors but some of them are considered as primary care physicians while the others are specialists.
Surgery They are only allowed to perform minor surgeries. Specialists here have full surgical rights for the areas they expertise in.
Certification board The chiropractic board at the state level, Diplomate speciality board and the national exam. State level medical board and national speciality boards.

Chiropractors have a total of 7−12 years of medical school that includes, 4−5 years of undergraduate years, 1−year residency for general practice, 4 years of chiropractic school, and specialties require an additional 2−4 years of clinical education. Whereas doctors need a minimum of 13−16+ years to specialize in anything, a minimum of 11 years of study to become a basic family physician includes 4 years of an undergraduate degree, 4−5 years of medical school, and 3−8 years of residency.

The medical licensing exam for chiropractors includes the national board exam, practical parts 1,2,3,4, and the state boards. Specialists also require additional written and practical board exams. In the case of the doctors, USMLE or COMPLEX depends on a specific medical degree and specialty boards after residency.


In conclusion, although chiropractors graduate as doctors they are different from doctors in many ways from the duty they perform, and their treatment process, they also hold a difference in power to prescribe medication and specialize in various fields that differ from each other.