Can Chiropractors Prescribe Any Type of Medication?

Chiropractic care is becoming a popular option for people suffering from chronic pain with chiropractors treating more than 35 million patients annually in the United States. So, when you seek treatment from a chiropractor, can you ask them to prescribe medication to supplement the healing process? 

Chiropractors cannot prescribe any type of medication as they are not legally allowed to. They also lack a foundation in pharmacology, as their treatment methods revolve around natural healing. Besides, using medicinal drugs and surgery goes against the chiropractic philosophy of holistic healing.

In this article, we will explain why chiropractors are not permitted to provide prescription medication and their philosophies behind drug-free treatments. We will also discuss what chiropractic treatment involves and why people seek out chiropractors.

Can Chiropractors Prescribe Medicine?

You may be wondering; can chiropractors give out drug prescriptions the same way a physician does?   

Chiropractors are not allowed to prescribe medication as per federal regulations. And since traditional chiropractic training doesn’t cover medicinal drug use and education, a chiropractor will need to complete extra training in osteopathy or medicine to prescribe medication.

Chiropractic uses more conventional methods of treating the body, so there is no need for modern drug involvement during treatment.

Although they cannot hand out prescriptions, chiropractors can advise on over-the-counter medications. However, some state boards advise against chiropractors suggesting any type of drug, so it is best to check your local regulations when consulting one.

States That Allow a Chiropractor To Prescribe Drugs

New Mexico is the only state in America that allows chiropractors to dispense prescriptions.

That said, a chiropractor can only dispense a certain number of board-approved drugs after completing 90 hours of further training. Chiropractors who complete the additional courses receive the title “certified advanced practice chiropractic physician.”

Drug types that a chiropractor can prescribe in New Mexico include:

  • Hormone medication
  • Muscle relaxers
  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Topical medication

The Chiropractic Alternative to Medication

Chiropractors advocate for treatment that promotes the body’s natural healing process. Therefore, introducing medicine to combat pain is counterproductive to the profession’s scope of practice: chiropractic care should not require medication during treatment.

According to, as part of chiropractic training, one must complete at least 4,000 hours in the following courses to qualify as chiropractic doctor:  

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Symptomatology and diagnosis
  • Hygiene and sanitation
  • Chemistry
  • Histology
  • Pathology
  • Principles and practice of chiropractic
  • Clinical instruction in vertebral palpation, nerve tracing, and adjusting

Pharmacology is absent from the list of required courses and is not part of the chiropractic syllabus. This is a core distinction between medical and chiropractic training and it allows a medical professional to provide prescriptions.

The opioid epidemic in America has also contributed to the reasons why chiropractors encourage the non-drug route. According to Dr. Robert Vining, chronic pain affects one in five Americans, increasing the risk of opioid dependence among back and neck pain sufferers. As such, chiropractic is a way to counter the rising use of opioids in pain management.

Can Chiropractors Prescribe Medicine
Can Chiropractors Prescribe Medicine? No, chiropractor will need to complete extra training in osteopathy or medicine to prescribe medication

How Do Chiropractors Treat Pain?

If prescription medication is out of the question, how do chiropractors treat pain in patients?

Chiropractors focus on making adjustments to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems to improve health conditions. Thus, chiropractic care emphasizes the relationship between structure (the spine) and function (the nervous system) and how the body uses this connection to recuperate naturally.

Chiropractors practice a hands-on approach when treating patients. During a consultation, a chiropractor might perform massages and evaluate the position of the spinal column and muscle movements.

A chiropractor’s primary expertise is in spinal manipulation. After patient evaluation, they may use physical force or an instrument to make adjustments to joints located in the spine. The aim is to move the spine into an optimal position for pain relief in different parts of the body.

Apart from spinal adjustments, chiropractors might also suggest the following treatments:

  • Diets
  • Exercise
  • Cold and heat therapy
  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)

So basically, chiropractic care aims to stimulate your body to heal on its own.

When To See a Chiropractor

Typically, Americans choose chiropractic rehabilitation when they face the following issues:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Physical and emotional stress
  • Reduced motor functions, stamina, and flexibility

While medication is often the solution for the problems above, patients may choose not to use drugs to relieve their symptoms and opt for chiropractic care instead.

Sometimes, patients visit the chiropractor regularly for spinal adjustments even when they’re not in pain. These appointments are more for maintenance and comfort than anything else.

Seeing a chiropractor can be your personal choice but a physician could also recommend one to you. Dr. Paul Duffy recounted his experience in integrated practice stating that physicians “now see chiropractic treatment as the front line in treating musculoskeletal conditions.”

Can I Take Prescription Medication When Seeing a Chiropractor?

You can take prescription medication while seeing a chiropractor, but only if advised to do so by a healthcare professional. Doctors of chiropractic can refer you to a physician or specialist if drugs and surgery are essential for successful treatment.

In today’s healthcare settings, chiropractors collaborate with other medical professionals to provide the best outcome for a patient.

Sometimes, medication might be necessary if chiropractic can’t resolve a health problem. When this happens, a chiropractor will refer you to a professional with proper knowledge of pharmaceuticals.

Final Words

A chiropractor cannot prescribe any type of medication because they do not have the necessary foundation in pharmacology at the time of certification. Furthermore, only one state in America – New Mexico – has legalized chiropractic prescription medication.

Chiropractic is still a popular and effective form of care without use of pharmaceuticals. Chiropractors tap into the patient’s natural healing abilities through spinal manipulation and other holistic treatments to relieve pain.

Still, if medication is essential to the cure, chiropractors can refer patients to other healthcare professionals for intervention.

Thanks for reading!

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M.D Mark D. - Healthline Gate Health and Medical Articles Author

About The Author

M.D Mark D. is a Health and Wellness professional writer. Mark has authored many health articles around the following topics: Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Pets Health, Mental Health, Medicine, and Supplements.

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