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Everyone lives with pain from time to time. Some more than others.

What do you do when that nagging low back pain won’t go away? What type of provider do you seek out when your neck hurts after getting rear- ended in a car accident? What happens when you sneeze so hard it feels like you’ve been stabbed in the back?

When pain can no longer be managed on your own, who do you turn to? Do you go to urgent care, your primary care physician, or to an orthopedic surgeon?

Some of you may ask yourself these questions when determining the appropriate steps to alleviate pain. Smart Pain Solutions is here to help get those questions answered! Below we will evaluate why a chiropractor is a good first option and describe how well a trained chiropractic physician can the lead on pain and coordinating care.

Chiropractic Cures All?

As much as some chiropractors would have you believe that adjustments can cure anything, that is just not the case. Nevertheless, chiropractic should be viewed as the leading choice for treatment of spinal pain and injuries. Obviously, every patient and every injury is different. But when it comes to a new injury or back pain, a credible chiropractor is a good first option. Not because chiropractors are magic healers and can fix everything, but because a chiropractor has a specialized toolkit of techniques and training, to treat and manage pain.

Really? Should I go to a chiropractor before my primary care doctor for low back pain?

The short answer is, YES. Just like primary care physicians, chiropractors are able to diagnose, treat, and recommend alternative treatment options for patients. Primary care physicians (PCP’s) are excellent and treat a broad range of health conditions. They are the right choice for managing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

Staying in Your Lane

Chiropractors invest significant time in education to skillfully diagnose and manage spine and joint pain. Yet it’s important to acknowledge that not all conditions fall within the chiropractic scope. In these instances, a qualified chiropractor can shine in the spotlight, seemingly connecting their patient to another healthcare professional with expertise suited to a specific condition.

In essence, if a chiropractor can not provide a solution, their role extends to directing care and “quarterbacking” your case. The end goal is still the same, but the strategy changes to co-managment, rather than in -office treatment.

Quarterbacks of the Case

Much like a quarterback commanding their offense on the football field, a chiropractor has the ability to lead and coordinate comprehensive care plans with the patient and other healthcare professionals. At Smart Pain Solutions, our mission statement is to “Elevate the Standard of Healthcare.” We pride ourselves in taking

the role of the “play caller” by connecting patients with a network of other health professionals such as orthopedic specialists, personal trainers, surgeons, pain management providers, or to a radiology center for advanced imaging.

When & Why do Chiropractors Refer?

A chiropractor may refer out once the doctor has discussed present and past injuries, as well as other medical conditions that pertain to the patient. If the chiropractor believes additional testing is medically indicated to determine a proper diagnosis, they may send their patient to an imaging center for x-rays, or MRI’s which is considered the gold standard for elevating soft tissues such as muslce tears or intervertebral disc injuries.

Chiropractors may also co-manage your injury by referring you to a primary care physician, personal trainer, dietician, orthopedic surgeon, or massage therapist to help speed up the recovery process and or further alleviate the symptoms. Chiropractors are skilled in a variety of alternative treatment options but for the benefit of the patient, their area of expertise and scope of practice may not be the only source of care that should be utilized. Co-management of patient conditions should be offered if conservative treatment is not working or if there are considerable red flags that present themselves.


In order for the system of co-managing and referrals to work effectively in healthcare, it is important for the chiropractor to have a large network of professional relationships. This collaboration of care ensures the patient receives treatment tailored to their specific needs. Having a refined network allows for more clear communication between the other medical specialists like the orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and physical therapists.

A strong connection enhances healthcare professionals’ ability to stay up to date with new and upcoming pain interventions, continuous insights on improving the progress of pain relief, and simply offering “more tools in the toolbox” for healthcare professionals alike. This could expedite the referral process, reduce patient wait times for receiving specialized care, and promote better outcomes in reducing pain.

Chiropractors can play an extremely beneficial role in the healthcare system. If you are looking for a new chiropractor or feel your chiropractor is not credible enough, we suggest reading our 5 Reasons to Fire You Chiropractor to determine if they are right for you.

DC Curriculum vs MD Curriculum

If you would like to get a better understanding of how chiropractic school may differ from a primary care physician’s schooling, we advise you take a look at the University of Michigan and Texas A&M University’s School of Medicine curriculum guidelines. For comparison we have also included Logan University’s Doctor of Chiropractic curriculum.

Attached below is a breakdown of credit hours doctors devote to each subject

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