Skip to content
Dr. Harry Brown Sr.Apr 26, 2023 10:13:58 AM14 min read

Can Chiropractors Write Prescriptions?

Can Chiropractors Write Prescriptions? Here's What You Need to Know

Since chiropractors first started practicing, there's been a debate about whether or not they can write prescriptions. On one side, some feel that allowing chiropractors to write prescriptions is dangerous and compromises the integrity of the medical profession.

Conversely, some believe that chiropractors should have the same access to medications as traditionally-trained medical doctors. So what's the real story? Can chiropractors write prescriptions?

In this blog post, we'll look at the truth behind this much-debated question and find out what you need to know to make an informed decision. Buckle up – it's time to separate fact from fiction regarding chiropractors and prescriptions.

Quick Clarification of Key Points

Generally speaking, chiropractors cannot write prescriptions since they are not medical doctors. However, in some states, chiropractors with additional training may be granted a limited ability to write prescriptions for certain medications.



Table of Contents

Can Chiropractors Write Prescriptions?

A Look at the Laws and Regulations

What Medications are Approved for Prescription by Chiropractors?

What Alternative Treatments and Medications Can Chiropractors Prescribe?

Their Role in Pain Relief and Spinal Adjustments

When Should a Chiropractor Refer a Patient to a Doctor?

Chiropractic Care and Alternative Medicine


Answers to Common Questions with Explanations

Can Chiropractors Write Prescriptions?

It depends on the region, as laws and regulations vary from state to state. To clarify the confusion surrounding this topic, it is important to understand the domains of responsibility for each healthcare provider within their capacity and scope of practice.

Chiropractors are typically trained in non-invasive and manipulative treatments for musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain, neck pain, spinal disc compression, and other neuromusculoskeletal disorders.

Chiropractic care seeks to restore and maintain health through manual therapy and targeted exercise programs. Generally, chiropractors cannot prescribe medications or perform medical procedures that a physician or specialist delivers.

Some states have adopted laws expanding the scope of a chiropractor's authority to prescribe certain medications like muscle relaxants or analgesics. However, there may be limitations on what kind or how much they can prescribe.

Additionally, some states allow chiropractors to carry out general physical examinations and primary care services. So while the answer is yes in certain jurisdictional cases, it's generally considered out of their scope of practice.

As this question has caused much debate among doctors of different disciplines over the years - with both sides strongly advocating for or against prescribing within chiropractic care - it is important to note that what may be true for one jurisdiction may not apply to another.

To fully understand the rules regarding prescription rights for chiropractors in your area, a closer look at the laws and regulations of your region should be taken. This brings us to our next section: A Look at the Laws and Regulations.

A Look at the Laws and Regulations

As the argument surrounding chiropractors writing prescriptions is complicated, with various regulations in play, it is essential to look at the laws and regulations related to this topic.

While some states, such as California, have recognized the prescribing privileges of chiropractors since 2002, there are others who do not allow them to do so.

In those states that allow chiropractors to write prescriptions, they are only permitted to prescribe certain medications. These medicines should relate to musculoskeletal treatment, like muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication, and antibiotics for infections.

More than 60 drugs are approved for prescription in California under this rule. In states that do not allow prescribing rights to chiropractors, they may be able to recommend specific medications but cannot write prescriptions.

The logic behind giving chiropractors the right to prescribe medications has been frequently debated among legislators and medical experts. Those in favor of the law argue that this will enable better coordination of care between MDs and DCs (doctors of chiropractic) and provide greater access to needed medications, particularly in rural areas and inner cities where primary care Doctors may be hard to come by.

On the other hand, some argue that this expansion of power can lead to a conflict of interest and prescribers potentially overmedicating patients due to their ties with pharmaceutical companies.

This divide goes back decades but recently gained additional momentum. Historically, convictions from both sides have become stronger, which have resulted in different responses from various state governments depending on local cultures and healthcare tendencies under which each region fall.

Ultimately, anyone considering seeing a Chiropractor for medication considerations should research local laws regarding prescribing powers given to chiropractors before consulting them for such matters.

Given all this information about laws and regulations surrounding chiropractors writing prescriptions, we'll now look at what medications are approved for prescription by chiropractors in those states allowing prescribing privileges.

What Medications are Approved for Prescription by Chiropractors?

While the debate surrounding whether chiropractors can prescribe medications is ongoing, some states have approved a limited list of drugs for prescription by chiropractors. The choice and availability of medicine vary from state to state, depending on the jurisdiction's regulations and scope of practice.

Generally, however, these medications are classified as "minor," meaning they produce minimal effects but may help to alleviate minor symptoms such as inflammation or muscle aches.

In most cases, the only medications that chiropractors can prescribe are over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. However, exceptions exist in some states, like South Carolina, where an expanded scope allows chiropractors to prescribe a diverse range of medications, such as antibiotics, antivirals, antiemetics, anxiolytics, and painkillers.

On the other hand, some critics argue that chiropractors do not have the training or qualifications to responsibly handle and administer medications without proper supervision.

The current debate about whether or not chiropractors should be able to write prescriptions continues with no clear conclusion yet. Nevertheless, patients need to understand the scope of care within their state before consulting a chiropractor for any medical service.

Next is a discussion about what alternative treatments and medications chiropractors can prescribe.

What Alternative Treatments and Medications Can Chiropractors Prescribe?

Chiropractors are mostly known for providing hands-on therapies, such as spinal adjustments and manipulation of joints. However, a lesser-known practice involves their ability to prescribe specific alternative treatments and medications.

In some cases, chiropractors may also be able to prescribe certain traditional medicines, including anxiety medications and painkillers.

Alternative treatments, often in the form of vitamins or supplements such as herbal remedies, may be prescribed by a chiropractor. These treatments can provide additional benefits and help patients manage their back pain and other conditions more effectively. They can also improve overall health outcomes by improving the patient's overall wellness.

However, many argue that some of these alternative treatments lack scientific evidence and should not be included in treatment for spine problems.

While there is little evidence supporting these treatments, some preliminary research suggests that they may be beneficial in improving joint function and pain relief when combined with regular chiropractic care.

At the same time, there is debate about whether it is safe for chiropractors to write prescriptions for traditional medications such as anti-anxiety drugs or opioid painkillers.

Research on this topic has been mixed - while many suggest that chiropractors should be allowed to prescribe particular medicines under special circumstances, others argue that licensed physicians should remain the primary source for prescribing prescribed medication due to their higher level of experience and knowledge. Ultimately, this should be addressed on a case-by-case basis while considering all factors at hand.

Ultimately, discussing recommended alternative treatments with your doctor before beginning them is crucial. It is also recommended that you consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any medication prescribed by a chiropractor.

With that said, understanding what alternative treatments and medications chiropractors can prescribe can help you make an informed decision regarding your approach to care for your spine-related issues.

This brings us now to discuss their role in pain relief and spinal adjustments – two different branches of care that chiropractic practitioners excel at treating with their hands-on expertise.

Their Role in Pain Relief and Spinal Adjustments

Chiropractors are often sought out as a primary form of pain relief. Many patients rely on the expertise and spinal adjustments chiropractors provide to help alleviate their pain and restore mobility. Adjustments performed by a chiropractor can reduce misalignment of the spine, improve mobility and flexibility, improve posture, and reduce stress.

They may also provide other treatments and services to promote healing or general well-being, such as electrical stimulation, taping, massage, and soft tissue manipulation.

Chiropractic care can be beneficial in treating some types of lower back pain due to its ability to correct subluxations (misalignments) in the vertebrae and restore better alignment, joint function, and mobility.

However, there is debate about whether or not chiropractic care should be used for more severe cases of lower back pain. Some studies have found that it may be effective for acute low back pain when combined with other treatments, whereas other studies have concluded that there was no benefit from chiropractic care alone.

While many people have benefited from chiropractic care for reducing pain levels, finding relief isn't guaranteed for everyone, especially with more severe cases of chronic back pain. It is vital for paying customers to understand this risk before undergoing treatments, as results will vary between individuals depending on factors such as age, degree of injury, lifestyle, etc.

The issue around chiropractors writing prescriptions remains controversial, but overall, they play an essential role in providing relief from certain forms of lower back pain through spinal adjustments, massage therapy, and other forms of physical therapy. This leads us to the next section, which discusses when a chiropractor should refer a patient to a doctor for further consultation.

When Should a Chiropractor Refer a Patient to a Doctor?

When seeking medical attention, chiropractors often play an integral role in the mix. Chiropractors are considered healthcare providers like other medical doctors. However, they cannot write prescriptions as they are typically not trained in prescribing medicine.

This begs the question: when should a chiropractor refer a patient to a doctor? As with any medical situation, it is always best to consult your primary care physician first.

There are various scenarios where a chiropractor might suggest their patients see a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. Certain conditions, such as allergies, skin rash, or infectious diseases, require medical diagnosis and urgent medical care by a physician.

Additionally, if symptoms appear outside of the scope of regular chiropractic care, such as difficulty breathing or intense chest pain for example, then you should be referred to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

On the other hand, many prefer alternative methods before turning to traditional medicine practices. In some cases, chiropractors offer treatments that can help relieve specific symptoms without medication or surgery.

Though there is no definitive answer as to when someone should visit a doctor instead of their chiropractor, it is important to remember that the decision is ultimately up to the patient's intuition and judgment.

No matter the situation, communicating your concerns to your healthcare provider will always be most beneficial for providing treatment for symptoms or illnesses that arise. Knowing when it is appropriate to refer a patient to a physician is important when considering the best course of action for any given individual's needs.

Thus, overall, though general guidance exists on when chiropractors might refer patients to a doctor, the final decision lies with each individual and their healthcare provider.

Given its importance in health care decisions, it is crucial to explore the relationship between chiropractic care and alternative medicine. In the next section, we will discuss how alternative medicines such as naturopathic therapies can complement chiropractic treatments and contribute towards overall health and well-being.

Chiropractic Care and Alternative Medicine

Chiropractic care is a branch of alternative medicine focusing on the connection between body structure and function. It is a manual therapy focused on restoring mobility and joint manipulation.

Those who practice chiropractic care often advocate for natural treatments that do not always require medications or invasive measures. This form of therapy is widely used to treat pain and is believed to work by helping to decrease inflammation and restore proper alignment within the body.

Chiropractic care has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its focus on preventative medicine and holistic approaches to treating physical ailments. Unfortunately, it is not always clear if insurance companies cover the treatment, so it's important for those considering chiropractic treatment to understand the financial obligations associated with the care.

Alternative medicines, such as acupuncture and homeopathy, have become more mainstream over the years. While some view these treatments as a viable option for ailments that don't necessarily need medical intervention, this debate often splits opinions.

The argument for alternative medicine stems from its natural approach and its effectiveness for certain conditions- some argue that these treatments are more effective than conventional Western medicine in certain cases. Conversely, many argue that there needs to be more evidence or data gathered over long periods to prove that these treatments are completely safe or effective.

Ultimately, patients need to research their options when considering medical treatments before deciding which course of action they should take. Chiropractors cannot write prescriptions and may be unable to provide all types of treatments needed, so understanding the implications and limitations of chiropractic care is critical.


Whether or not chiropractors are authorized to write prescriptions depends on the state where the practitioner operates. It is a legally regulated practice, and laws concerning it vary from one jurisdiction to another.

In some states, chiropractors can only write prescriptions for certain drugs or medications that may help treat patient conditions. However, most states do not allow them to prescribe medications at all.

The debate around this issue has been ongoing for many years. Proponents of allowing chiropractors to write prescriptions point out that they have a vast amount of knowledge and experience in musculoskeletal disorders and pain management, making them uniquely qualified to provide prescriptions.

On the other hand, opponents claim that permitting chiropractors to prescribe medications could lead to dangerous outcomes because they are not as well-informed about medical pharmacology as medical doctors are.

Ultimately, there will likely remain a divide over this issue for some time until more unified decisions can be made across all states regarding the scope of practice for chiropractic practitioners - or until an overarching governmental decision is made nationwide.


Answers to Common Questions with Explanations


What evidence is there to support the use of chiropractic treatments to improve health and wellness? Yes, there is evidence to suggest that chiropractic treatments can improve health and wellness. Spinal manipulation has been found to decrease back pain, improve mobility and flexibility, reduce stress, and help restore the optimal functioning of the nervous system. The effects of chiropractic adjustments on headaches, hypertension, asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, and menstrual-related conditions have also been studied with positive results. Study participants who received regular spinal adjustments reported improved overall health compared to those who did not receive any treatments. A 2018 study published in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research showed that chiropractic care positively affects physical health and well-being more than medications or physical therapy.
What types of prescriptions can a chiropractor write?

A chiropractor can technically write prescriptions for certain medications and treatments. However, this is usually limited to non-controlled substances like physical therapy aids and drugs used to manage symptoms rather than treat diseases. This is because chiropractors do not have the training or licensing that allows them to diagnose or treat diseases in the same way as medical doctors. For example, they could write a prescription for muscle relaxants to help reduce pain or order laboratory tests and imaging scans to diagnose underlying conditions better. Ultimately, the types of prescriptions a chiropractor can write will depend on the specific authority granted by their state licensing boards.

Are there legal restrictions on what types of prescriptions chiropractors can write?

Yes, there are legal restrictions on the types of prescriptions chiropractors can write. Most states allow licensed chiropractors to write prescriptions only for certain medications related explicitly to treating musculoskeletal or neuromuscular conditions. For instance, a chiropractor may prescribe pain medications or muscle relaxants but not medicines for other conditions such as allergies, blood pressure, heart disease, or infections. Furthermore, even within the restricted categories of medications, there are specific limits to what a chiropractor can prescribe. For example, some states do not allow chiropractors to write prescriptions for controlled substances. Some states have also placed additional restrictions on the amount of medication a chiropractor can prescribe. Patients need to understand these regulations to get the most appropriate care and avoid potential legal issues.


Dr. Harry Brown Sr.

Dr. Harry W. Brown, D.C., a native of Atlanta, Georgia and graduate of Logan College of Chiropractic opened his first Chiropractor Office in Savannah, Georgia in 1977. His commitment and caring dedication to his patients was instantly recognized in the community. In 1979, Dr. Harry W. Brown, D.C. moved back to his home in Atlanta and opened his second Chiropractic Office in Jonesboro, Georgia. Through a commitment to the highest levels of patient care, Arrowhead quickly became the largest Chiropractic facility in Georgia.