Chiropractic Care Vs. Care From A Medical Doctor (MD)

silhouette of doctor looking at xray

When you need health care, you have a choice between receiving care from a chiropractor versus receiving care from a medical doctor (MD).

Both medical professionals can examine, diagnose, and treat your injury. Nevertheless, their techniques can heal your pain very differently.

In this post, we’ll examine the different philosophies of chiropractors and MDs and provide you with some guidance on which type of doctor you should choose for care based on your situation.

Comparing Methods of Practice

Both medical doctors and chiropractors are medical professionals that restore your health, but their medical approaches can be very different.


Chiropractors are experts in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and they promote general wellness. They perform tests, such as MRI’s, blood tests, and clinical exams to treat your injury as best as possible.

After diagnosing your injury, chiropractors use holistic procedures to get results. The hands-on approach is non-invasive and doesn’t use prescription drugs. Chiropractors maintain their own office – you usually won’t find them working out of a hospital.

Medical Doctors

Medical doctors are most commonly working in hospitals. They can range from specialists, surgeons, to general practitioners, and can prescribe pharmaceuticals to patients.

MDs use more invasive treatments, which are defined as “a foreign object entering the body cavity to perform the medical procedure.”  Generally, invasive treatments are surgery, vaccinations, and prescriptions medications.

These procedures can be beneficial in emergency situations where you need immediate results. For minor or moderate injuries, chiropractic provides safer care that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Medical Prescriptions: Treating Causes vs. Treating Symptoms

A medical prescription is not always over the counter drugs. For chiropractors, a prescription is a change of lifestyle. After receiving your adjustment, your chiropractor will often recommend a change in diet or exercise.

This is unlike a medical doctor, who prescribes pharmaceuticals when you are in pain. Many people have chronic injuries due to obesity or lack of exercise. Chiropractors treat the cause of your problem, whereas MDs may use prescription drugs to treat the symptoms of your ailment.

Side Effects Of Prescription Medication

While pharmaceutical drugs can be helpful for emergencies, the drugs are often over-prescribed. Prescription drugs are addictive and can have serious side effects. Chiropractors recommend not taking pharmaceutical prescriptions unless you absolutely have to.

On average, 4.5 million Americans visit the emergency room each year because of serious side effects from prescription drugs. Serious side effects include physical debilitation, heart conditions, stroke, cancer, and sometimes death. More common side effects of prescription drugs include dizziness and nausea.

Certainly, if you choose to work with a chiropractor, you won’t have the risk of side effects because you won’t be prescribed pharmaceutical drugs as part of your healing plan.

What to Expect During Your Office Visit

Office visits with a chiropractor and medical doctor can be very different.

Medical Doctor Office Visit

Your appointment with a medical doctor will begin by filling out paperwork that a nurse or receptionist provides. The nurse will then provide the initial examination which could include your heart rate, weight, height, blood pressure, and other vitals.

After meeting with the nurse, your MD will review the collected information and perform a clinical examination. Your MD might need further tests, such as blood work, x-rays, or MRIs.

Your treatment plan will be determined according to the MD’s clinical examination and tests. Your MD’s treatment is usually a prescription and/or referral to a specialist.

Chiropractor Office Visit

The initial phase of a chiropractor visit is similar. You will meet with a nurse who takes your vitals. If this is your first visit, then you will probably fill out a medical history questionnaire that is provided to you by the nurse.

You will then meet with the chiropractor who could run further tests. A primary difference between chiropractors and MDs are that chiropractors use their expertise to alleviate your pain immediately. Your chiropractor can perform an adjustment during the first visit.

Chiropractic is holistic healing that does not prescribe pharmaceutical medications. Chiropractic treats the root of the problem to maintain a healthy body.  Your chiropractor will provide you with diet, exercise, posture, and other health improvements that could prevent you from experiencing a repetitive injury.


Both chiropractors and medical doctors provide beneficial services.

The big difference is that MDs may recommend drugs that only treat your symptoms. They may recommend surgery that is costly, invasive, and which can take months to recover from. MDs are a good option for emergencies.

If you are seeking relief for pain that is not an emergency, then chiropractic care might be able to help and should be your first choice.

Dr. Troy has over 20 years of experience treating a variety of health conditions, without resorting to dangerous prescription medications. To schedule a free consultation, please call 360-260-6903.