Are Chiropractors Doctors?
Officially, chiropractors are doctors, but they are not medical doctors. First, chiropractors cannot prescribe medications like medical doctors. Generally, chiropractors avoid recommending even over-the-counter medication because they advocate for natural healing. Second, chiropractors cannot perform surgery. Sometimes, patients require surgical treatment. Chiropractors who find that their patients require invasive treatment will recommend that the patient seek medical care. On the other hand, chiropractors can call for imaging tests, such as X-rays. Third, many insurance plans may not cover chiropractic care. Patients who seek chiropractic care might need a referral from a primary care practitioner for insurance coverage. Usually, chiropractors do not offer the same treatment options that medical doctors do. However, chiropractors do train extensively to practice licensed chiropractic care. Patients may prefer the natural treatment option. In general, chiropractic care is a safe alternative to many traditional medical treatment options.1
How Do They Compare to Physical Therapists?
Chiropractors and physical therapists are not entirely dissimilar. A DC is a Doctor of Chiropractic, and a DPT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Primarily, both professions treat pain and injury. Usually, chiropractors practice in private clinics while physical therapists are associated with hospitals. Neither healing profession prescribes medication, and they both use joint manipulation and soft-tissue mobilization to treat patients. Often, chiropractors and physical therapists use exercise and massage in their treatment plans. For insurance purposes, physical therapists are specialty practitioners and chiropractors are health care providers. Chiropractors are knowledgeable about spinal adjustments, physical therapy, general medicine, radiology, and neurology. Physical therapists also learn about chiropractic and general medicine. Both healing professions are backed by official organization, schools, and certification. In many cases, chiropractors and physical therapists are both involved in the treatment process. Additionally, many patients benefit from specialized care.2
How to Become a Chiropractor
Many people wonder about how long to become a chiropractor is. Students learn for over four thousand hours at chiropractic schools to become certified in chiropractic care. Usually, they take courses in biology, chemistry, psychology, and physics. In fact, most chiropractic students graduate with a pre-med major. The American Chiropractic Association reports that the number of classroom hours in an average chiropractic program is comparable to the credit hours of a program that trains medical doctors. After graduation, chiropractic students must obtain a license from their state licensing board. Additionally, many chiropractors further their education in nutrition, sports medicine, acupuncture, and rehabilitation. Chiropractors can strive to learn about more advanced aspects of chiropractic care, and they can earn additional certification. Even though chiropractors are not medical doctors, chiropractic training is not easy. Patients should always find out whether their local chiropractor has been officially licensed.3
How Many Years of School to Become a Chiropractor
Typically, students need about eight years of higher educations and four years of undergraduate educations to earn their license. The chiropractic graduate program is divided into four years and 4,200 instructional hours. During the first year, students learn about general anatomy, chiropractic principles, biochemistry, and spinal anatomy. After that, students learn about chiropractic procedures, pathology, clinical orthopedics imaging interpretation, and research methods. By the third year, students take courses in clinical internships, integrated chiropractic, pediatrics, dermatology, practice management, and ethics and jurisprudence. Finally, students devote their fourth year to a clinical internship. During the internship, chiropractic students study under certified chiropractors. They also spend time in hospitals or veterans’ clinics. Additionally, many students pursue further studies. The chiropractic graduate program is a very comprehensive course, and students will apply what they learned over the course of their chiropractic careers.4
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median pay for chiropractors in 2018 was over seventy thousand per year. Additionally, chiropractors usually work in solo or group practices. In fact, most chiropractors are self-employed.5 Chiropractic salaries vary based on experience, location, and specialization. Generally, chiropractors who specialize in certain medical areas tend to earn more.
Similar healing fields are massage therapy, physical therapy, podiatry, and occupational therapy. Respectively, their median annual salaries are about forty thousand, eighty-five thousand, one hundred twenty-five thousand, and eighty-two thousand. So, in general, chiropractors earn more annually than massage therapists. Again, there are many factors that affect how much a professional in any field earns. Holistic medicine has gained a lot of popularity, and there is a demand for natural treatments for joint and musculoskeletal issues. The BLS projected that the demand for chiropractic care will grow quickly.6
Myths and Truths About Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors do more than just crack patients’ backs. Spinal manipulation is an important part of chiropractic treatment, but it is not the only part of treatment. Specifically, chiropractors employ a variety of tools and techniques to treat patients. They can heal lower back pain, neck pain, and a variety of physical ailments. Chiropractors can also create nutrition and exercise plans. Chiropractic care works, but it is not a catch-all treatment. Unfortunately, chiropractic care cannot treat every patient. Some patients require medical treatment. Commonly, chiropractic care is used for back pain. However, it is not limited to treating back pain. Chiropractors can also treat pain in the neck, elbow, shoulder, and foot. On the other hand, chiropractors should not treat bone fractures or similar traumatic injuries. Chiropractors perform X-rays to avoid improper treatment. Typically, chiropractic care is a safe treatment option for most patients.7
What Do Chiropractors Treat, and What Do They Avoid?
Chiropractors address many parts of the body, including the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, and nervous system. In addition to pain, chiropractors address the whole body through ongoing treatment. Even patients who are pregnant and young patients can safely receive treatment from a chiropractor. Usually, the soreness side effect of chiropractic treatment is temporary. Rarely, some patients experience more serious complications. Patients who have spinal instability, severe osteoporosis, spinal cancer, or high risk of stroke should not seek chiropractic care. Patients who are unsure about the safety of chiropractic care can consult their medical doctor, and a doctor can determine whether their patient is fit for chiropractic care.8
3, 4, 7 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com
Now that you have learned what it takes to be a chiropractor, it is time to choose the right one.