Can A Chiropractor Be Your Family Practice Doctor?

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If you're not comfortable with conventional Western medicine for any reason, you might wonder whether a chiropractor could be your family practice doctor. Some individuals do decide to utilize a complementary health practitioner rather than a medical or osteopathic physician for enhancing wellness and for general health concerns. A chiropractor, like those at Newman Chiropractic Center LLC, would be glad to talk with you about the advantages and problems with this approach. 

What Exactly Is Primary Care?

In family practice, a health care provider helps patients maintain health and resolve problems that don't require attention from a specialist. 

Family practice doctors are also called general practice and primary care doctors. They provide general health evaluations and diagnose and treat a variety of problems. They also refer patients to specialists, such as rheumatologists, and to other care providers, such as physical therapists. Nurse care practitioners and physician assistants increasingly are primary care providers due to a shortage of family doctors.

Why Aren't Chiropractors Considered Primary Care Doctors?

Chiropractors can perform general physical exams and order diagnostic testing, such as X-rays, EKGs and blood tests. Nevertheless, there are numerous issues with deciding a chiropractor should be your primary care physician. For instance, chiropractors:

  • do not dedicate as much time to the clinical study of disease during chiropractic school as medical students do
  • do not diagnose or directly treat life-threatening illnesses
  • typically do not perform more specialized exams, such as pap smears and prostate exams
  • cannot legally prescribe medicine

Chiropractors are essentially specialists in diagnosing and treating problems with the musculoskeletal system. They view the health of this system as integral to the health of the entire body.

If a chiropractor provides an adjustment and the patient's sore throat goes away, it's possible those two events are related. The chiropractic view would be that spinal misalignment was causing problems elsewhere in the body. However, a chiropractic doctor does not do throat swabs and cannot prescribe antibiotics for strep throat. 

Where Do Chiropractors Fit in Conventional Medicine?

A chiropractic doctor in many respects is more similar to a physical therapist than to a medical doctor. However, you can seek chiropractic treatment without a referral, which is typically not the case with a physical therapist. 

Conventional medical practitioners view chiropractors as complementary practitioners, which means chiropractors are often valuable for therapy in combination with medical treatment. For example, patients might seek chiropractic care for relief of back pain and combine that therapy with pain medication.

What Would Your Chiropractor Say?

The only way you can really know what a chiropractor thinks of this subject is to ask. You may find a chiropractor in your area who has a broader scope of practice than most of these health care providers do, or even a chiropractor who also can work as an MD. Otherwise, you can use a more standard combination of conventional medical and complementary therapy.