How Chiropractors and Orthopaedic Physicians Work Together


Do you go to a chiropractor? If so, you’re not alone. Many Iowans see chiropractors for a variety of musculoskeletal issues — as well as problems like migraines, allergies, asthma and more.

Both chiropractors and orthopaedic physicians have the same goal — to help patients minimize or eliminate pain and improve their quality of life. Although they approach this goal in different ways, chiropractors and orthopaedic physicians can and do work together in the best interest of the patient.

What chiropractors do

Chiropractors focus on non-invasive tactics for adjusting joints in order to relieve pain. This includes spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments like massage therapy, acupuncture and hot/cold therapy. Their objective is to help the body heal itself without surgery or medication.

What orthopedists do

Orthopaedic physicians are medical doctors who focus on non-surgical and surgical treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Conditions treated by orthopaedic physicians range from bone and joint disorders and fractures to problems with muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Referring chiropractic patients

If chiropractic patients can’t find relief for a joint or muscle issue, their chiropractors may refer them to an orthopaedic specialist. Or they may refer patients at the onset of a new injury or source of pain.

First, the orthopaedic specialist will talk with the patient and perform a physical exam. He or she may also recommend testing, including an x-ray, MRI or EMG.

Once the orthopaedic specialist has determined a diagnosis, he or she will give their recommendations for different treatment options and map out a plan of care. In most cases, simple conservative treatments will resolve the issue. This may include trying physical therapy, injections or medications. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to reduce or eliminate pain.

Have questions?

If you have muscle or joint pain and would like to get the opinion of an orthopaedic specialist, we can help. Just call us at 515-440-2676.

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