Chiropractor FAQs

  • Introduction

    Chiropractors are health care practitioners who specialize in spinal manipulation. They can help patients improve their mobility and posture and assist in pain relief and healing after an injury. People visit chiropractors for an array of health problems, including back and neck pain, headaches, sports injuries, and damages sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Chiropractors also treat patients regularly, providing preventive care or relief for ongoing issues, such as arthritis.

    Chiropractors use a variety of techniques, including manual manipulation of the spine and extremities. In many cases, chiropractors work alongside other alternative health care professionals to provide patients with holistic care. That may include acupuncturists, massage therapists, and osteopaths.
  • Is a chiropractor a doctor?

    While chiropractors aren't medical doctors, they must have specialized training and licensing to practice. Completion of this training makes them doctors of chiropractic care (DC). This title lets them practice chiropractic techniques; however, it doesn't allow them to perform invasive medical procedures or provide other medical care.

  • Do chiropractors go to medical school?

    Chiropractors don't go to medical school. Instead, they attend chiropractic school to obtain a DC degree and pass a series of exams from the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which enables them to get adequate licensing to treat patients.

  • How to become a chiropractor?

    To become a chiropractor, you first need to achieve an undergraduate degree in biology, kinesiology, or a similar subject prior to applying to chiropractic school. Once accepted, you'll have to undergo four years of intensive schooling that includes a combination of practical and classroom-based learning.

  • How much do chiropractors make? 

    According to PayScale, the average annual salary for U.S.-based chiropractors is $60,577. Top paid chiropractors earn as much as $75,848 annually, and those just starting out earn just over $56,000 per year.

  • How long does it take to become a chiropractor?

    Obtaining the right degrees to become a chiropractor typically takes about eight years. That includes a four-year undergraduate degree and a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic program. Additional time may be necessary to prepare for licensing exams.

  • Are chiropractors safe?

    When performed correctly by a trained, licensed professional, chiropractic adjustments are safe. But there are inherent risks associated with receiving chiropractic care, including nerve compression and disk herniation. These risks are rare and typically occur with certain adjustments.

  • How much does it cost to see a chiropractor?

    The cost of chiropractic care varies depending on geographic location and services rendered at the appointment. According to a survey conducted by Chiropractic Economics magazine, the average fee in 2020 for an adjustment ranged between $43 and $67, while new patient evaluations ranged in price from $52 to $173.

  • Do chiropractors take insurance?

    Most chiropractors accept insurance and most health insurance providers in the U.S. cover limited chiropractic care. In most cases, patients are required to make a co-payment on services rendered. Before visiting the chiropractor, it's always best to review insurance policies to see what's covered.

  • Can you see a chiropractor without insurance? 

    Insurance coverage is not required to receive chiropractic care. Those without insurance can expect to pay the full cost of care out of pocket, and again, this price varies widely depending on the region and services rendered.

  • Do you need a referral to see a chiropractor?

    Referrals are not required to obtain chiropractic care. Patients can request assessments and treatments as they needed. However, some insurance companies might require patients to have a referral from a physician if they want their visit covered by their plan.

  • Can chiropractors write prescriptions?

    Because chiropractors aren't medical doctors, they don't have the proper education or licensing to prescribe medication. Instead of medication, chiropractors offer home-based therapies, such as stretches and exercise, to patients who’ve sustained an injury, helping to speed up recovery. Chiropractors can prescribe orthopedic devices, as needed.

  • Can a chiropractor give injections?

    While chiropractors can't inject narcotic medications, they have adequate training and licensing to administer trigger point injections (TPIs). TPIs may contain corticosteroids or other nonnarcotic medications that can reduce pain and inflammation. That being said, a medical doctor must still provide any prescription medication that's injected and obtained from a licensed pharmacy.

  • Are chiropractors qualified to read X-rays?

    While the specific laws and scope of practice vary from state to state, chiropractors can request X-rays in all 50 states and advanced imaging studies, including spinal MRIs and CT scans. Most chiropractors are fully trained to read X-rays and their reports. Depending on the results of the X-ray, chiropractors may need to request a further interpretation from a medical doctor.

  • Can chiropractors diagnose conditions?

    Chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat an array of spinal disorders. They use a variety of diagnostic tools, including clinical evaluations, X-rays, and CT scans, to diagnose problems, such as herniated discs, coccydynia, sciatica, and whiplash. However, any condition not related to the spine typically requires the advice of a licensed medical doctor.

  • What should I wear to the chiropractor?

    Because chiropractors need to manipulate the spine during an adjustment, it's important to wear nonrestrictive clothing. Comfortable clothing that enables patients to move easily helps to learn properly any stretches or exercises taught during the appointment.

  • Can you go to a chiropractor while pregnant?

    Many chiropractors offer prenatal care meant to relieve pain and discomfort and help women adapt to changing postures during pregnancy. Before obtaining chiropractic care during pregnancy, it's important for women to discuss their plans with their OB-GYN to ensure that chiropractic care is a safe treatment option.

  • What should I expect at the chiropractor?

    At the first visit, chiropractors typically get information about patients' health history and any current pain or discomfort they're feeling. The chiropractor usually checks vital signs and reflexes and performs the patient's first adjustment. Depending on the patient's condition and complaints, they may also provide referrals for additional tests, determine a treatment schedule, or provide stretches and other home-based treatment options.

  • Can chiropractors hurt you?

    When a chiropractor performs spinal manipulation, it's not uncommon to feel some pain or discomfort in the days that follow. That can include headaches or residual pain in the spine or other treated areas. However, there are rare instances when chiropractic treatment can cause severe adverse effects, such as stroke or disc herniation.

  • What is the difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath?

    Both chiropractors and osteopaths use similar techniques when treating patients, including manual manipulation. However, while chiropractors are primarily focused on treating the spine, osteopaths offer treatments for other parts of the body, too. An osteopath can provide treatments for musculoskeletal problems and health concerns, such as colic, chronic fatigue, and sleep disorders.

Find a Top-Ranked Chiropractor Near You

We did the research for you!

  • Licensing
  • User Reviews
  • Mystery Shopping Calls

Learn about our selection process.