How common is it for chiropractors to insist on being called "Doctor"?

I’ve not been to a chiropractor. I understand they go to special chiropractor school (is that correct?) .
For those of you who go to chiropractor’s or who know this. Do they commonly or normally insist on being called “Doctor.”

I just ran into one who seems to go out of his way to mention his doctor school training, self refers as doctor, etc.

I don’t know a lot about chiropractors, but there is a large and growing concern from physicians regarding how Nurse Practitioners are trained and practice.

Much of the outrage is due to their relatively large salaries coupled with relatively little training. And if you want to see a physician’s feathers ruffle up, bring up the fact that some NPs (and chiropractors) present themselves (and even advertise as) “doctors”. They call them “noctors”.


To sit for the bar exam, in most places, you need a juris doctor degree. You don’t normally call an attorney a doctor.

To become a licensed chiropractor you need a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. And they are normally referred to as doctors…although not a medical doctor or MD.

If you have a PhD, doctor of philosophy, degree you are also commonly referred to as a doctor, although not an MD.

In a non-professional context?

The guy’s an ass. And so is an MD who does that.

Surely he doesn’t actually say “doctor school”? I would say this is OK; he is a health care professional with a doctorate, so he’s entitled to be called “doctor” in a professional setting, the same as PhD psychologists are. Anyone who expects to be called “doctor” anywhere outside their office, regardless of degree, is, as thorny said, an ass.

If chiros want to refer to themselves as a “doctor of chiropractic” that’s marginally acceptable in my opinion (though the self-aggrandizement generates eye-rolling).

Deception comes in when they trumpet themselves as “doctors” without specifying that they’re chiros. This is a common occurrence on social media and in other public forums where they hope to deceive the public about vaccination and other medical (and their preferred pseudomedical) interventions.

One such person who has 82K Twitter followers, styles himself “Dr Ben Tapper”, with a bio that also mentions he’s a “Christian, husband, father to four. -Filmmaker -Patriot -Advocates for medical freedom and true Science” - but that doesn’t reveal that he’s a chiro.

Hence the proliferation of Rug Doctors, Basement Doctors and the like.

If you mean outside of the office, I have no idea. But from a professional/business standpoint, at least locally, all the chiros refer to themselves as “Dr.” People like having titles. Why wouldn’t they? I know a guy locally who received his ‘doctorate’ from a small cinder block building that was a part of a church’s premises. Now, this guy did like the nickname “Doc,” but I don’t know whether he insisted on the more formal “Dr. Quackenbush” outside of the office.

I’ve known two chiros well. One of them (my wife’s stepfather, in fact) never used Dr. AFAIK. The other one I have no idea what he did outside the office, but I always called him Dr. He was recommended by my family physician and I used him for decades (until died actually, from cancer). Incidentally, each of them stated that most chiropractors were quacks and would not try to recommend one.

And to clarify: if a doctor of chiropracty expects to be called a doctor in their professional context, that’s not being an ass. (Whether they’re practicing like an ass is a separate question.) Anybody with a doctorate can use the title in the relevant professional context.

Tangentially related —

the most arrogant narcissistic person I know was an elderly preacher who insisted on people refering to him as a “doctor”.

The thing is his doctorate was entirely honorary and he didn’t even have any formal religious education.

I have twice been to chiropractor. First time for back problems. I got a good massage and he cracked my back, which felt good. He recommended a course of treatment which was out of my budget so that was the end of it.

Years later, my insurance company extended coverage to some “alternative therapies”. So I tried it again. The insurance covered the office visit which I think was 20 bucks. The whole massage and back cracking cost more.

Then upon learning where I worked and what I did for a living, he assured me workers comp would take care of all the bills. And surprise, he would take care of all the paperwork. So that was the end of that.

In my opinion, chiropractors are massage therapists that crack your back. Chiropractor School is not Medical School. Chiropractor School is not an accredited University giving out PHDs in anything.

I go to Massage Envy for back massages now. Sometimes they crack my back.

My father in law is into Chiropractors. If they align this spinal section it cures cancer. This vertebrate it cures diabetes. Etc. Not much different from phrenology in my opinion.

So in summation, Chiropractors are quacks.

They can cause real damage.

The Dr. who worries me is Dr.Phil.
I have heard some people say something he professed. Push back. You get “well he’s a doctor”

I told a nurse* once, “no he’s not a doctor. He’s a talk show host”
She was miffed at me.

*We were discussing my diet.

I certainly agree chiropractic is woo, and dangerous woo at that; however, there are accredited chiropractic schools in the United States. It doesn’t matter those schools do not award a Ph.D. that’s a different field of doctorate. The link I provided is to the American Chiropractic Association, which states those schools are accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education and that link states the CCE

CCE is a member of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

So, yes, those woo practitioners have attained an accredited doctorate.

Now back to the idea of “doctor = medical doctor”. Evidently, the first doctorate, in theology, was awarded in 1167 to Peter Abelard.

As for medicine Wiki tells me:

Professional doctorates developed in the United States from the 19th century onward. The first professional doctorate offered in the United States was the MD at Kings College (now Columbia University) after the medical school’s founding in 1767.[17] However, this was not a professional doctorate in the modern American sense. It was awarded for further study after the qualifying Bachelor of Medicine (MB) rather than a qualifying degree.[18] The MD became the standard first degree in medicine in the US during the 19th century, but as a three-year undergraduate degree. It did not become established as a graduate degree until 1930. As the standard qualifying degree in medicine, the MD gave that profession the ability (through the American Medical Association, established in 1847 for this purpose) to set and raise standards for entry into professional practice.

Honestly, that entire article about doctorates on Wikipedia is a fascinating read, as is the related article Doctor (title). That last one has this interesting tidbit:

In many parts of the world today it is also used by medical practitioners, regardless of whether they hold a doctoral-level degree.

In short: there are accredited chiropractic schools in the US awarding doctoral degrees. And the doctorate in medicine is really a Johnny-come-lately to the party.

Oh, and chiropractic is still bullshit.

It is a matter of terminology then.

I have read of chiropractic school graduates who mostly, or exclusively, do legitimate massage therapy. But then, they are not doing chiropractic.

I resent that my health insurance premiums are higher due to including coverage for anti-scientific woo, but there seems to be no remedy.

Can I transfer my accredited classes from a CCE school to UCLA?

I have no problem with people with a PHD in religion or anything else being called doctor in a professional setting.

Chiropractors do not claim they have a PHD in anything. They claim to medical “doctors” in the sense of neurosurgeons or gastroenterologists.

No, they don’t. They claim to be medical practitioners, not medical doctors. They get a degree of doctor in chiropractic. It’s an accredited degree and that makes them doctors, but not medical doctors. Neuroserugeons and gastroenterologists are medical doctors, but not chiropractors (thankfully).

I’m only defending the facts of accreditation of the degree, not the woo. Did you check out the links in my post above? MD is a very recent degree compared to some other doctorates.

There are two ways we use “doctor.” One is a title that can refer to anyone with a doctorate, which can be in art history or whatever. Addressing somene with any doctorate degree as “Dr Smith” is normal and proper. (There are exceptions to this rule, as noted above, lawyers may have a juris doctorate but never get called doctor)

However, when people say “I’m going to my doctor” or “I need a doctor”, we’re referring to physicians. Generally MDs or DOs (that’s actually another related issue - DOs claim to do what MDs do, except some additional nonsense on top of it. Anyway…)

Chiropractors want to pretend that they’re real doctorate-level healthcare professionals, like physicians. No one with an art history degree says “I’m a doctor”, and everyone would assume anyone making such a statement is a physician. Chiropractors want to fool you into thinking they’re physicians or on par with physicians by laying claim to being “a” doctor, not just Dr. So-and-so.

Beyond that, I think it’s disgusting that we allow practitioners of non-scientific bullshit to pretend to have expertise in something. It’s usually a carve-out by credulous or bribed politicians. It boosts bullshit that hurts people and it does damage to the credibility of actual medical practioners. It is negligent as a society that we allow these practitioners to pretend to be practicing real medicine. Yes, their schools may be accredited, but that doesn’t mean anything. There are naturopathic and homeopathic and other types of absolute bullshit that are accredited too. Hell, I’m sure with some money and a sympathetic state congressman you could probably get an accredited school of ghost hunting or spirit mediums. And hey, why not let them set up shop right next to therapist trained in grief counseling and pretend they’re both valid forms of psychotherapy?

I will defend honest chiropratice and not as massage therapy. My wife’s mother married a chiro when my wife was 10. She had moderate scoliosis. Two years later, after his manipulations of her spine, it was gone. He had kept her x-rays and showed them to me. It was pretty clear even to someone (me) not trained to read x-rays.

When I had repeated back problems, my physician very tentatively (he knew me well) recommended his chiro. I went to him for years. he manipulated my spine and also recommended stretching exercises. Whether his treatments or the exercises were what did, I can’t say. But the back problems have disappeared. He once tried to find a chiro for himself and tried all over the city before giving up in disgust. So when he died, I kept doing the exercises, but did not try to find a replacement.

That’s my experience, FWIW. Neither he nor my step-father-in-law ever claimed to treat anything but the back.

That latter one at least sounds more like a physical therapist. I will agree that is more than massage.

I’ve only ever really known one chiropractor, and he insists on going by “Doctor [Firstname].” FWIW, he also has a very large ego, and is preoccupied by appearances.