There is a very common joke regarding doctors, and it goes like this: a man has a heart attack on the subway, and his wife starts calling out for a doctor. A person emerges from the crowd, and says that he is a doctor. And so when the wife asks him to help save her husband, he shrugs and says, “Oh, I can’t help you with that. I’m a chiropractor.” 

Mind you, this is a joke that has been used for different contexts – sometimes, the ‘doctor’ is simply someone with a PhD, and other times, the ‘doctor’ is a dentist – but it does raise an important question, at least in the case of chiropractors. Are they truly doctors? 

In order to find the answer to this question, one must first understand what makes a doctor. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a doctor is “a person skilled or specializing in healing arts”. Should we accept this definition, then the answer is clear: chiropractors are well-versed in chiropractic, which is a form of medicine, and thus can be considered a part of healing arts.

But, at the same time, we must also consider other factors, particularly the technicalities of being a doctor. In order to legally be recognized as a practicing doctor, it is generally necessary for one to obtain a medical degree. Physicians, surgeons, and even veterinarians have medical degrees, which are awarded to them for their studies in the field of medicine. 

However, chiropractors do not have medical degrees. Instead, they have Doctor of Chiropractic degrees, which certify that they are well versed in chiropractic. This key difference separates chiropractors from more common medical practitioners (such as physicians), who are more commonly regarded as doctors.

Certainly, one may claim that the very name of the degree obtained by chiropractors indicate that they are doctors. After all, people with PhDs outside of medicine are also addressed as doctors, despite the fact that they do not have medical degrees either. The word doctor has a dual meaning, and as a result, we must make a distinction between doctors with medical degrees and doctors without medical degrees. In the former category are the common medical practitioners, as mentioned before. In the latter are those that do not fit in the category, such as chiropractors.

As a result, we can certainly say that chiropractors are doctors. They just aren’t medical doctors, since they do not possess medical degrees. At the end of the day, however, how they are addressed matters very little. Knee Pain Doctor or chiropractor in Mesa, AZ – these are individuals that must be respected at the end of the day, no matter what word is used to discuss their occupation. 

Thanks to LifeCare Chiropractic for their insight into chiropractic care and doctors.