Healthy Beginnings

Chiropractors are, in fact, real doctors – myth versus reality

A chiropractor will look to take pressure off your nervous system in order to fix your ailments.

Some people still wonder if chiropractic care is a real medical profession because of all the things they have heard over the years.

Over the many years, there have been plenty of things said about chiropractors. Some are true, while others were made up to scare people so they wouldn’t seek care from chiropractors.

The truth is that until 1983, the American Medical Association held that it was unethical for medical doctors to associate with an “unscientific practitioner,” and labeled chiropractic as “an unscientific cult.”

In 1976, Chester Wilk and four other chiropractors sued the AMA, several nationwide health care associations and several physicians for violations of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The plaintiffs lost at the first trial in 1981, then obtained a new trial on appeal in 1983 because of improper jury instructions and admission of irrelevant and prejudicial evidence, according to the federal antitrust case, Wilk v. American Medical Association.

On September 25, 1987, Judge Susan Getzendanner issued her opinion that the AMA had violated Section 1, but not 2, of the Sherman Act, and that it had engaged in an unlawful conspiracy in restraint of trade, “to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession.”

She further stated that the, “AMA had entered into a long history of illegal behavior.” She then issued a permanent injunction against the AMA under Section 16 of the Clayton Act to prevent such future behavior.

Both sides cross-appealed, and the district court’s decision was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals on February 7, 1990.

The AMA petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court three times, but each time the Court denied “certiorari” — a legal term meaning an order in which a higher court reviews a decision of a lower court.

The AMA eliminated Principle 3 in 1980 during a major revision of ethical rules (while the Wilk litigation was in progress). Its replacement stated that a physician, “shall be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical services.”

Thus, the AMA now permits medical doctors to refer patients to doctors of chiropractic for such manipulative therapy if the medical doctor believes it is in the best interests of the patients.



Let’s look at the difference between the schooling of chiropractors and medical doctors.

Consider the following comparisons of selected course hours at Parker Chiropractic College vs. Harvard and Stanford Medical Schools.

Although each has its own specialties (nutritional education and manipulation vs. pharmaceutical classes), the hours of classroom instruction are about the same. However, in several important common courses, the emphasis of those course hours differs significantly:

Doctor of Chiropractic / Doctor of Medicine

161 Hours Biochemistry / Chemistry 100 Hours

408 Hours Diagnosis / 113 Hours

149 Hours Neurology / 171 Hours

56 Hours Psychology & Psychiatry / 323 Hours

271 Hours X-Ray / 13 Hours

168 Hours Orthopedics (and Manual Therapy) / 2 Hours

699 Hours Anatomy & Physiology / 215 Hours

296 Hours Pathology / 507 Hours

The above comparisons come from the Association of American Medical Colleges and were also discussed and reported on in a February 2014 Healthy Beginnings article by Martin Rutherford, D.C., C.C.S.T., C.F.M.P. and Randall Gates, D.C., D.A.C.N.B., of Power Health and Reno.

They demonstrate that both fields of practice are competent practitioners to help people in both acute and chronic conditions. The decision is based upon your symptoms and how you want to approach your care.

Medical doctor training is more to assess and treat pathologies (cancers, broken bones, heart attacks, etc.) and acute (colds, flues, pneumonia, infections, inflammations, etc.) conditions, and they will try and fix you with the use of drugs or surgery in most cases.

A chiropractic doctor, meanwhile, will try and fix you through the use of taking pressure off your nervous system, which controls or leads to your symptom or symptoms area. Also, nutritionally, they believe the body can heal itself if given the chance to because it is intelligent and likes to be free of pain.



The sad part is that a lot of people have been brainwashed into believing that chiropractors are quacks, so they suffer needlessly instead of getting help. This goes on because some insurance adjusters and companies, attorneys, medical physicians or patients hold a completely incorrect understanding of the comprehensive nature and quality of chiropractic care.

In reality, there are a lot of medical doctors, chiropractors and other holistic health care offices that work closely together for the benefit of the patient, because they know that each patient is unique in his or her health care needs.

Each profession has different ways to look at the symptoms and ways to approach them to better serve the patient, and then there are some instances in which the best thing to do is let the condition run its course.

So based on the evidence, we see that chiropractors are real doctors. Just know there are good and bad chiropractors — just like there are good and bad medical doctors, movies, books, etc.

Find yourself a good chiropractor and allow him or her to help you with your health care needs. You will be surprised at all the benefits you have been missing.

Dr. Tony C. Jensen is a Reno-based chiropractic who is board certified in the state of Nevada. Visit to learn more.