Career Differences of a Chiropractor vs. an Orthopedist

Dr. Lombardozzi Adjusting A Patient Who Chose A Chiropractor vs OrthopedistThe Doctors of Kempsville Chiropractic see and treat new patients everyday, sometimes these patients come to the office as their last resort after trying countless other options and seeing no improvement. This unfortunate reality is in part due to a lack of awareness about chiropractic and also due to confusion by patients as to exactly which doctor to see for their specific problem. Finding the correct specialist for a symptom can be challenging for any patient especially when there can be so many closely related doctors who treat similar ailments so differently. One prime example of this would be headaches. A patient who has a headache could see their primary care physician and be given a prescription, a neurologist and be given a cat scan, an ER doctor and be given an injection, or a chiropractor and be adjusted. Four different specialists for the same one symptom could offer four different treatments; this is why it is so important for patients to understand all of their options in order to make the best decision for their course of treatment.

Orthopedic doctors will primarily recommend physical therapy for exercise rehabilitation and orthopedic surgery for surgical intervention. While orthopedic surgery may sound like a foreign concept most people know someone who has had a surgery that involved hardware. Orthopedic surgeons use metal plates and screws to stabilize musculoskeletal structures in the body that have been weakened by broken or fractured bones, torn ligaments or strained and weakened muscles either through normal wear and tear or trauma.

In other words, chiropractic focuses in on the nervous system and demonstrates that if the nerves in the body are free from interference the body is able to function at its optimum level, not only relieving the body of painful symptoms but also allowing a patient to function to their highest abilities. Chiropractic is not about surgery to replace weakened systems it is about finding the cause of the weakening system and treating the interference of the nerves that go to the affected area, and providing the muscles around the area with support through both muscle strengthening exercise therapy and deep tissue massage therapy.

An important thing to keep in mind for any patient unsure of which specialist to see is that each specialist does have their proper place in medicine or they would not be in practice, however surgery should always be a last resort not a first attempt at treatment. It has become a far too common practice to remove vital parts of the body and replace them with mechanical pieces. Our bodies were made to function and designed to allow us to live long, healthy, full lives. If given the proper nutrition, exercise, and with regular maintenance of the spine and nervous system, the need to repair or replace integral parts of the musculoskeletal structure should be reserved for only the worst cases.

Dr Vuiller Adjusting A Patient Who Chose A Chiropractor vs OrthopedistChiropractic looks at the body as an entire network of functioning systems not just at a symptom. Chiropractors are not pain doctors or symptom maskers, chiropractic believes that the body presents physical symptoms to let us know that there is a problem within the body and chiropractors consider it their mission to find exactly where that problem stems from and correct it so that the physical symptoms drastically decrease on their own or subside completely.

Orthopedists will normally recommend physical therapy that is designed to strengthen the muscles, tendons, or ligaments of the affected area. Orthopedists are more commonly individual symptom focused and if the condition does not improve or is even exacerbated by the physical therapy will simply recommend that the patient go in for surgery to replace the weakened structure. Chiropractic demonstrates that if the nervous system is properly cared for the entire body will function at a higher level and with proper nerve supply restored the body can fight and strengthen itself without the need for the assistance of metal replacement parts.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the subject for patients in pain trying to find some relief from the tough decision of figuring out which specialist is best for their symptom. Chiropractic is a natural, dedicated form of treatment for overall health that is safe for all age groups and beneficial to anyone with a nervous system.

Call us at 757.467.5258 to arrange an appointment with Kempsville Chiropractic. If you are considering surgery, we would like to talk to you about your possible options before getting surgery. If any of your friends and family can benefit from this article and are facing a hard choice like this, please recommend this article to them.

The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.

Chiropractors diagnose and treat health problems of the musculoskeletal system and treat the effects those problems have on the nervous system. Orthopaedists focus on the prevention and correction of disorders, diseases and injuries of the joints, skeleton, muscles and other supporting structures.


What is an orthopedist?

An orthopedist is a medical professional who is responsible for treating a patients injuries using surgical methods and procedures. Typically, an orthopedist examines a patient and then decides if they are a good candidate for surgery. If they decide to go through with the surgery, the orthopedist crafts a surgical plan that includes information on prescribed medication and recovery details. Orthopedists may specialize in a specific area of the body, like the neck, back or feet, or they may work as a generalized professional that handles all orthopedic needs.

Before suggesting surgery, an orthopedist usually recommends a physical therapy plan to help a patient recover. However, if the patient doesnt show signs of progress, orthopedists often recommend a surgical procedure to correct the problem. Orthopedists follow up with patients after surgery, usually for four to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the surgery and recovery.

What is a chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a medical professional who treats patients using spinal adjustment procedures. This involves stretching, cracking and aligning the spine to help patients with neuromuscular disorders. Chiropractors can treat issues in a patients legs, feet, ankles, back, shoulders and neck using alignment procedures. Patients can visit a chiropractor regularly, or they may seek treatment after an accident, like a sporting injury or car accident.

Chiropractors typically use a holistic approach to medicine. This is when doctors consider all parts of an injury or illness and how it affects the patients emotional and physical health. For example, a chiropractor may find that a misalignment in the patients neck is causing prominent shoulder issues. Its important that the chiropractor examine the patients entire body, rather than just their shoulder, to see if their neck is causing any other issues as well.

Chiropractor vs. orthopedist

Here are some differences between a chiropractor and an orthopedist:


Aspiring chiropractors and orthopedists pursue a similar education, though their specific coursework and academic requirements differ. Chiropractors must complete a bachelors degree in a field related to health science, like biology or anatomy and physiology. Upon finishing their bachelors degree, they complete a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree, which typically takes five years to complete.

Orthopedists must complete a bachelors degree in orthopedics. After receiving their bachelors degree, they complete four years of medical school, which offers them knowledge on orthopedic surgery, medicine, recovery and common orthopedic treatments. They must complete a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Upon graduating medical school, orthopedists can attend a specialty program that allows them to specialize in a specific field of orthopedics.


Most chiropractic programs require aspiring chiropractors to complete a year-long internship under the supervision of an experienced chiropractor. Students may decide to pursue an internship at a hospital to gain more experience in different healthcare settings. Orthopedists must complete five years of orthopedic residency throughout their education. They can choose to gain experience in a private practice clinic or hospital. Throughout their residency, orthopedists familiarize themselves with pediatric orthopedics, reconstructive surgery, sports medicine, orthopedic oncology and orthopedic surgery.


Chiropractors must earn a license in their state to work in chiropractics. Most states require that they pass a certification exam which the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners administer to aspiring chiropractors. After passing the exam, they can receive their license to work as a practicing chiropractor. Generally, chiropractors do not need to renew their licenses or certifications. They may also gain certifications that allow them to increase their chiropractic skills and experience. Here are some other certifications that chiropractors may consider getting:

Orthopedists must pass a board certification exam that allows them to work in orthopedics. Once they complete their education and residency, they can take the exam. Having board certification allows for orthopedists to perform surgery on patients. After having their certification for 10 years, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery requires them to go through a re-certification process that involves continuing education and a re-certification exam.

Treatment approach

While chiropractors and orthopedists both treat patients experiencing ailments, their approaches for medical treatments are different. Chiropractors dont prescribe medication and they dont perform surgery. Instead, they use a more natural approach to treatment, which includes performing spinal adjustments, teaching exercises to patients and managing pain using stretches. Orthopedists use surgical procedures to treat patients, and they prescribe medication for patients before and after surgery.


Orthopedists can choose to specialize in a specific field, while chiropractors typically study generalized chiropractic work that allows them to treat all parts of the body. Upon completing medical school, orthopedists can decide which field of orthopedics interests them most, then they can pursue further education and experience in that specific field. Here are the specialties that they may pursue:

Job duties

Chiropractors and orthopedists perform various job duties to treat their patients and help them recover quickly. A chiropractors job duties usually involve natural treatment methods, like teaching stretches to patients, while an orthopedists involve surgical-related duties, like developing a post-surgery recovery plan. Here are some common job duties that chiropractors complete while working:

Here are some common job duties that orthopedists complete:


Career advancement

Chiropractors can achieve career advancement by starting their own private practice and building a clientele. Some chiropractors begin their careers working at chain chiropractic companies or other practices, so they can advance by gaining experience until theyre ready to establish their own company. Although chiropractor is typically the highest position available, they may be able to take on more clients or additional management responsibilities at the practice to increase earning opportunities.

Orthopedists have various opportunities for career advancement, depending on their workplace, skill set and job title. If they work at a hospital, they may advance to the role of chief medical officer or chief of surgery.

Work environment

Chiropractors and orthopedists usually work in different environments, since chiropractors often work in private practice clinics and orthopedists work in a hospital or medical center. Chiropractors may work in a joint private practice clinic with other chiropractic professionals, or they may work as an independent chiropractor. Typically, chiropractic offices are calm so that patients feel comfortable while receiving a spinal adjustment.

Orthopedists work on a team of orthopedic surgeons who collaborate closely to determine the best surgical plan for their patient. Due to the fast-paced nature of hospitals, orthopedists may work in a high-energy environment. They may also perform emergency orthopedic surgeries, which may require them to work outside of their normal working hours, like evenings or weekends.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


Is it better to see a chiropractor or orthopedic?

Depending on the severity of the root causes of your back and neck pain, surgery may be the best option for treatment. Chiropractors are not licensed for surgery so an orthopedic surgeon is the best option for your care.

When should you not see chiropractor?

Don’t seek chiropractic adjustment if you have: Severe osteoporosis. Numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in an arm or leg. Cancer in your spine.

Is a chiropractor just for bones?

Few things chiropractors can help you with include problems in your tendons, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, joints, central nervous system and most importantly bones. Chiropractors help you with more than just physical ailments.

When should I see a chiropractor or a doctor?

Whenever back pain occurs, it is always a good idea to consult with your primary care physician first. When they see an increase in your pain or discover your predicament is beyond their own expertise, then they will advise you to a more appropriate professional – and that is a chiropractor.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *