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Car Crash: Chiropractor vs. Orthopedic Doctor: What Is the Difference?

Between 14,000 – 17000, car accidents occur every day on American roads, and in 2020, 43% of these led to injuries. After a car crash, you may sustain back, neck, and other musculoskeletal injuries ranging from minor to severe.

Seeking medical treatment will depend on the types and severity of the injuries sustained. In the event you or a loved one get in an accident, it’s crucial to know what kind of doctor can best help you.

Do you need to see a chiropractor or an orthopedic surgeon? Which is best for you and what is your deciding factor in choosing one or the other. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

What Is a Chiropractor?

Chiropractors focus on treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system without surgery. They use a combination of manual therapy and manipulative techniques to adjust the spine and other joints in the body. They also often incorporate lifestyle changes and exercise into their treatment plans. Because they are not licensed, medical doctors. And thus cannot prescribe medications.

Chiropractors can treat a wide range of injuries, including:

  • Whiplash
  • Lower back pain
  • Sprains and strains
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

What Is an Orthopedic Doctor?

Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors licensed by the state. They have completed extensive training in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. These doctors can prescribe medications, perform surgeries, and provide other types of interventions.

Orthopedic physicians treat many of the same injuries and conditions as chiropractors. However, they are more likely to recommend surgery for serious injuries or conditions. They may also be more likely to prescribe medications, such as painkillers or steroids, for relief.

Some of the most common conditions that orthopedic surgeons treat include:

  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Torn ligaments
  • Dislocated joints
  • Osteoporosis

What Is the Difference Between a Chiropractor and an Orthopedic Doctor?

The biggest difference between chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons is in their area of focus. Chiropractors focus on nonsurgical treatment. While orthopedic surgeons correct disorders through more invasive medical means.

They consider chiropractic care unconventional therapy or alternative medicine. Orthopedists utilize cutting-edge technology and treatment options to help their patients.

Another key difference is their length of study. Chiropractic doctors earn a Doctor of Chiropractic at the end of their course of study. And their state of practice requires them to register. Their course of study is not as extensive as that of an orthopedic surgeon. Though they are able to treat far more medical conditions using their alternative methods. They will often employ realignment procedures, acupuncture, and other less invasive means of treatment.

Orthopedic surgeons must complete four years of undergraduate school. Plus, four years of medical school, and an additional five to seven years in a residency program. After their residency, they must then pass a state-administered exam. Before the state will issue a license to practice medicine.

While chiropractors focus on the entire musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in particular areas. For example, some may focus on the spine while others concentrate on the extremities like the shoulder, elbow, or knee.

Since they consider chiropractic medicine alternative medicine. Insurance providers, may not cover your treatment. So unless you are able to pay out of pocket or have a good car crash attorney, it may not be in your best interest to consult a chiropractor.

When to See a Chiropractor vs Orthopedic Surgeon

In general, you would see a chiropractor for conservative treatment of musculoskeletal problems while an orthopedic surgeon is best for more serious injuries that require injections, medicine, or surgery.

Chiropractors are often the first line of defense against back and neck pain as well as headaches, TMJ, and carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have suffered a sports injury or been in a small car crash, your primary care physician may refer you to a chiropractor before considering surgery.

On the other hand, if you have been in a major car accident or have suffered a serious injury like a broken bone, herniated disc, or torn ligament, you will likely be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.

What Will Insurance Cover?

As mentioned earlier, insurance companies may not cover chiropractic care. They may, however, pay for some orthopedic services. For example, if you have a work-related injury, your workers’ compensation insurance should cover the cost of your treatment.

If you have been in a car accident, your auto insurance should cover the cost of your medical care, including any visits to a chiropractor or orthopedic surgeon.

It’s important to check your coverage with your insurance provider. Before making an appointment with either type of doctor.

Legal Options

A car crash attorney is another person you should talk to if you have been in an accident. Medical expenses, loss of job or income, and pain and suffering are only a few of the many types of damages that may be available to you. The effects of a car accident can be overwhelming, but an experienced car crash lawyer will fight for the compensation you deserve.

Car crash attorneys are often able to get you a higher settlement than if you were to go it alone. They will do the majority of the work so that you can focus on your recovery. They will also ensure that your medical care and all bills incurred as a result of the car crash are handled.

Hiring a Car Crash Attorney

If you have been in a car crash, it is important to consult with a car crash attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to guide you through the legal process and help you recover the compensation you deserve.

RHINO Lawyers in Tampa and Lakeland, Florida represent car crash victims throughout the state. We offer a free consultation so that we can review your case and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.

Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.