Chiropractor vs. orthopedic services: Which is the better treatment for pain?

better treatment for pain

Pain caused by an injury or chronic condition makes life miserable. Selecting between chiropractor and orthopedic services for better treatment for pain can be perplexing. Although orthopedic services may be unanimously recommended, even the best doctor of this domain may not be able to provide you the desired relief.

On the other hand, Chiropractor services cannot be ignored. These treatments are scientifically proven and even covered under Medicare. Chiropractor and orthopedics services vary widely. The unfortunate reality in many cases is the patients lack in awareness and dwell in confusion regarding which specialist to consult.

For example, back pain can be effectively managed both by Chiropractors and orthopedists, but not all back pains can be treated by Chiropractors. Even choosing a Chiropractor can be tough, owing to their varied styles of practice.

Chiropractor vs. orthopedic – The difference in approach:

musculoskeletal systemOrthopedics is the branch of medical science dealing with prevention and rectification of disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. Based on the symptoms, medications, physical therapy, surgery and rehabilitation therapies are suggested. Surgeons may use external hardware to fix fractured bones, torn ligaments, or weakened muscles.

Chiropractic, on the other hand, focuses on the entire nervous system not only on symptoms. The practice believes any interference in the nerves is responsible for the physical disorder. It involves manipulation of the spinal cord to remove the interference.

This not only relieves the symptoms, but also helps the patient to function in his best ability. Chiropractors apply muscle strengthening exercise therapy or deep tissue massage to remove interference in the nervous system. They will never prescribe any medication nor will suggest any invasive procedure. They can, however, recommend alternative treatments like acupuncture and adjustments.

The approach of an orthopedist or the best Orthopaedic Doctors in India and a chiropractor is different. While orthopedists mainly focus on symptoms, a Chiropractor focuses on the entire physical network and tries to find the root cause of symptoms.

An orthopedist normally prescribes medication and physical exercises for any musculoskeletal disorder. If symptoms do not improve or are exacerbated, surgery remains the only option. Chiropractic aims in taking care of the nervous system that will help in proper functioning of the entire body. With restoration of the nervous system, it eliminates the necessity of external replacement parts. Naturally, it is often considered a better treatment for pain.

Common conditions addressed by Orthopedists and Chiropractors:

You can visit an orthopedist or a Chiropractor if you are suffering from any one or more than one symptoms listed below:

  • Pain in the back and neck
  • Pinched nerves
  • Problems in the joint
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Injuries from accidents
  • Spinal disc problems

Both of them will advise physical therapy for healing, although the approach will differ, as discussed above.

Chiropractor and orthopedic – Which one is the better treatment for pain?

ChiropractorEven after having an understanding of the basics, it is not easy to place one treatment above the other. Both are unique in their approach.  To get better treatment for pain, you need to understand its nature and cause, which unfortunately is not possible. Only an experienced professional can suggest the right option.

For example, patients of back pain often look for Chiropractors, but there are some conditions which need to be assessed by a conventional medical practitioner than a chiropractor.  All pains may not arise from mere musculoskeletal disorders. There may be potentially serious conditions which can be effectively screened by conventional diagnostic procedures and tracking medical history.

It is more important to consult your MD physician if you experience symptoms like:

  • A problem in controlling bowel and bladder function.
  • Feeling of numbness in the genitals
  • Pain accompanied by fevers, chills and sweats
  • Tremendous pain awakening you at night

Is chiropractic effective in all types of pain?

Here lies the catch. Chiropractor services are not recommended as a better treatment for pain in case of nerve or spinal cord compression unless advised by the doctor. Infections and tumors in the spinal cord cannot be treated by Chiropractors.

There are cases of patients suffering from devastating nerve complications arising from spinal cord manipulations. Although these are exceptions, a good understanding of the cause of back pain is a must before undergoing the spine manipulation.

Chiropractor or Orthopedics for Scoliosis or curved spine:

ChiropractorMany patients opt for Chiropractic therapy to straighten their curved spines with a belief that it would be fruitful.  Unfortunately, not much clinical evidence is available citing the effectiveness of Chiropractic in rectifying this disorder.

Although reports published in 2013 presented the review of effectiveness of Chiropractic in scoliosis, but the case studies considered in the report were weak and not enough to establish the efficacy of this therapy over orthopedics. Ultimately, surgery is the only option left to rectify severe scoliosis with spinal curves above 45 degrees or curves that cannot be rectified by bracing.

So which can be the better treatment for pain in this case? Reports and studies compiled by researchers cannot establish this as both treatments work in parallel to heal the patient. However, data slightly swings in favor of orthopedic treatment in this case.

The prime reason is the surgery. Based on the nature of the deformity and high success ratio, surgery can be the best option with patients with severely restrained mobility owing to scoliosis.

Chiropractor vs. Orthopedics – Which one to opt for better treatment for pain?

Immediate care:


When you are suffering from pain, you are likely to reach out to the specialist whose treatment plan can give you quick comfort. There may be certain cases like fractured bone or joints that need immediate repair.

An orthopedic surgeon would be the right choice in that case. He will be able to take a quick decision either to keep you immobile or go for surgery. If you feel to go for non-invasive and natural treatments, visiting a Chiropractor might be suitable.


Chiropractic is gaining popularity only very recently. Not everywhere you can find Chiropractors. Reaching out to the best doctor in orthopedics seems to be easier in that case. The rule of the thumb is to get your condition assessed correctly prior to zeroing in on any treatment option.

Today's Top Articles:

Scroll to Top