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Are Chiropractors Real Doctors? Yes, Just a Different Breed.

Are Chiropractors Real Doctors? Yes, Just a Different Breed.

A common question by consumers is: are Chiropractors Real Doctors?

First, when someone asks this question, what they probably mean is, “are chiropractors Medical Doctors?” The answer is obviously no. Neither are Podiatrists, Dentists or Optometrists. However, each are “doctors.” Chiropractors, like other “allied health professionals,” are specially trained doctors to care for specific health concerns. Each requires extensive formal education, training and licensing. To become a Doctor of Chiropractic, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, Doctor of Dental Science or Doctor of Optometry is no less daunting than becoming a Doctor of Medicine or MD. The numbers of hours in training is nearly equal. They are just different.

“Doctor” Confusion of Terminology? Or Ingenious Marketing?

Many people use the word “doctor” interchangeably with “medical doctor” or “medical physician.” They do not understand that the term “doctor” alone does not signify what a professionals license entails. Think of it like in the great soda war in the US. When people say, I’d like a Coke or Coca-Cola, they are referring to a carbonated cola  beverage. A single company has co-opted the use of common language to point to their specific product despite hundreds or thousands of competing brands of cola.  So too, have the Medical Doctors co-opted the name in the minds of the public. Organized medicine wants you to think MD when you say “doctor” and anything other than an MD is somehow inferior. In reality there are many different types of doctors, Medical Doctors are but only one type.

Chiropractors are a different breed of doctor.

Let’s use a dog analogy to illustrate this point. You are probably familiar with the differing breeds of dogs. Each breed has been developed over time to tackle a particular task. A German Shepherd was bred to protect and guard. A dachshund was bred to crawl into holes and hunt vermin. Huskies are adapted to live in the cold and pull sleds. And lap dogs are bred to, well, keep your lap warm and provide good company.

These are all different breeds for different tasks, but at the end of the day, they are all DOGS.

A chiropractor is a doctor trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments through natural means. No, they do not perform surgeries or prescribe medications, because they do not desire to. Just like your MD is not about to give you a root canal or prescribe contact lenses. Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) analyze the spine for malfunction and provide manual adjustments to the spine to improve function. They also may perform physical treatments like light, heat, cold, electricity and exercises as well as nutritional counseling to naturally care for you.

Medical doctors, podiatrists, dentists and optometrists are not trained to analyze the spine as it relates to overall health. They are not trained to adjust the spine or know which natural methods provide the most relief for pain. That’s the specific niche for chiropractors.

Education of Doctors

Each specific type of professional license has requirements to achieve before sitting before a licensing board to get permission to practice. The hours spent in this pursuit are very similar. The difference is that in medical doctor training because they learn mostly on-the-job in residency on more different fields, it takes longer. Chiropractic education has as many or more hours than basic medical education. They must also do 2 years of hands on treating during their schooling, but since their focus of treatment is narrower than their medical counterparts, it does not take as long.

This is a comparison of the percentage of time spent in formal training for chiropractors and medical doctors.

chiropractic education and medical education comparison

Here is a break down of time spent in individual courses for chiropractic and medical education

chiropractic and medical education hours

Your Orange Chiropractor is in fact a real doctor and is part of the overall healthcare team to care for you and your family.

If you are suffering from headaches, neck or back pain or have been involved in a car accident, call us, we can help (714) 938-0575



“Chiropractic Education: A Comparison to Medical Education,” MAC Journal (April 2009); Coulter, Ian, “A Comparative Study of Chiropractic and Medical Education.” Alternative Therapies (September 1998), Vol. 4, No. 5; Parker Foundation, “How Well Educated is Your Chiropractor?”

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