Are Chiropractors Doctors?

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Lower back pain, neck pain, sciatica – these painful, debilitating conditions often lead people to seek medical treatment. When people come to seem me for the first time, they are often skeptical. I spend a lot of time explaining what I do and my training as a physician.

The question “Are chiropractors really doctors?” is a little strange, if you consider that most people do not ask “Are dentists really  doctors?” Even though dentists do not complete the same medical degree as a physician, we trust that dentists knows what they are doing when it comes to our teeth. However, with chiropractic there is general skepticism. And, if you know the history of chiropractic, you’d understand why.

In the mid-20th century the American Medical Association (AMA) labeled chiropractic a form of “quackery” and organizing a national boycott using an ethics ban on interprofessional cooperation to prevent medical physicians from working with chiropractors. In 1987 the landmark case Wilk v. AMA ended this boycott. The court found that the AMA was “guilty of having conspired to destroy the profession of chiropractic in the United States.” Today physicians routinely refer patients to chiropractors, and insurance agencies pay for chiropractic treatment. Nevertheless, a stigma against chiropractic lingers.

In some ways chiropractor’s training in anatomy and physiology is more extensive than an MD’s training. Like an orthopedic specialist, we read X-rays and focus on soft tissue injuries, and everything related to the spine. The conditions we treat run the gamut from nerve pain to headaches and concussions.

Doctor of Chiropractic: What Does That Mean?

When you see the letters DC after a chiropractor’s name, that means he or she is a Doctor of Chiropractic. Like a Dentist is a DDS, doctor of dentistry, a chiropractor is also a doctor.

In order to practice in Oregon, chiropractors must pass the National Board Examinations and the Oregon State Board Examinations. Yearly continued education is required to maintain an active license to practice.

These rigorous requirements ensure a high standard across the industry. Whether you’re seeing a chiropractor in Portland or Baker City, the chiropractor must complete these educational and exam requirements.

A Doctor of Chiropractic must complete medical training and pass national and state exams. In the state of Oregon, chiropractic physicians must graduate from an accredited college. It takes four to five years to complete a chiropractic medicine degree, which includes:

  • Anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Microbiology

  • Biochemistry

  • Pathology

  • Nutrition

  • Gynecology

  • Pediatrics

  • Geriatrics

  • Differential diagnosis

  • Radiology

  • Spinal analysis

  • Chiropractic manipulation

  • Physiotherapy

What to Expect at a Chiropractic Appointment

Graffeo Chiropractic provides a complimentary consultation free of charge to new patients. One of our chiropractors will listen about your specific injuries, answer questions and concerns, and discuss your health goals. When it comes to your recommended treatment plan, you’re in the driver’s seat.

Chiropractic treatment generally includes a spinal adjustment:

See our blog post Do Chiropractic Treatments Work? to learn more about the science behind spinal adjustment.

Do you have more questions about chiropractic? Our staff and chiropractors are happy to answer all your questions before you decided on treatment. Contact us for more information about a complimentary consultation.

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About Author

Dr. Joe Graffeo

Chiropractor Dr. Joe Graffeo joined his family practice, Graffeo Chiropractic, in 1999. Patient education is an important part of his practice. He takes time to listen and talk with his patients about their symptoms, injuries and concerns. For Dr. Graffeo, being a chiropractor is more than a profession; it is a way of life – and health. When he's not helping his patients, he enjoys sports and outdoor activities with his family and their dogs. Call 503-255-5522 for a courtesy visit at Graffeo Chiropractic Clinic.

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