The Differences Between A Medical Doctor And A Doctor Of Chiropractic

By:  Dr. Elaine Adams

It’s very important to know just some of the basic differences between an MD (Medical Doctor) and a DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) in order to understand the unique role that each type of medical professional plays in helping you to maintain or regain your optimum health.

MDs and DCs are both fully licensed healthcare providers. They will examine, diagnose and treat patients. However, most Medical Doctors have trained for more hours in physiology, whereas Doctors of Chiropractic will usually have trained for more hours in the anatomy of the body. Their different methods of practice can help to explain this difference. DCs are experts in musculoskeletal health and general wellness. Like an MD, a DC will use diagnostic imaging, lab tests, clinical exams and questionnaires to diagnose their patient, but the type of treatment that they administer will be different. MDs usually prescribe pharmaceuticals and surgery as a form of treatment for their patients, whereas DCs will generally use a more holistic approach which involves a variety of hands-on treatments, as well as some advice on diet and exercise.
Office visits are also very different experiences. On a visit to an MD, you will most likely be asked by a nurse or assistant to fill out certain paperwork and provide information about your condition. The MD will then visit you, take a look at the information, perhaps perform a brief clinical examination, and quickly prescribe a treatment. However, with doing this most doctors only take a small amount of time to understand your overall health. And their form of treatment usually involves drugs and/or different medical procedures.

Doctors of Chiropractic Can Offer a More Personal Approach
It is very common for patients to have a more personal relationship with their Chiropractor than with their Medical Doctor. The chiropractor will speak with you at length about not only your physical symptoms, but your lifestyle as well. They will examine you, perform any necessary tests, discuss all of the possible treatment options available, and provide the appropriate manual therapies. These treatment methods are more usually referred to as “physical medicine”. These can include targeted spinal adjustments, disc decompression, laser therapy, electrical stimulation and hot and cold treatments as well as different structured exercise and stretching programs. The chiropractor may also make specific dietary and nutrition suggestions.

In general, musculoskeletal problems are better treated by a DC. However, many chiropractors also develop specialized expertise in other aspects of health as well. Doctors of Chiropractic will refer you to a Medical Doctor if they believe that diagnosing and treating your specific condition is beyond their scope of practice.