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  • Northwoods Health Centre

How Chiropractors Complement Medical Doctors

Chiropractors play a complementary role to medical care in managing musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions and injuries. Whether partnering with medical doctors in patient care or receiving referrals from physicians who know their patient would benefit from MSK expertise, there significant benefits to the patient in the collaboration of medical and chiropractic doctors.

Medical doctors have tremendous knowledge and experience treating systemic and visceral conditions, while chiropractors have a vast knowledge regarding the assessment, diagnosis and conservative management of MSK conditions. Our expertise in MSK health is primarily, but not limited to, the back and neck.

Interprofessional collaboration promotes effective patient-centred care. Chiropractors are trained to actively communicate with other healthcare providers, including medical doctors, about patient needs and their extensive academic and clinical training allows them to know when patients need to be referred back to their family physicians. Chiropractors are well-trained to refer patients who are presenting with non-musculoskeletal complaints and understand when there are contraindications to manual therapy.

Collaboration with other healthcare providers can enhance the accessibility, delivery, and continuity of patient care. Reducing barriers to care via collaboration ensures that patients get the right care at the right time by the right provider. The healthcare landscape is changing and chiropractors are often working in various interprofessional environments as a member of the healthcare “team”. In fact, some chiropractors work in hospital settings, family health teams, community healthcare centres, and private integrated practice.

Healthcare teams, comprising of a group of professionals, can improve the quality of patient care and safety while reducing overall workload on individual providers. Chiropractors work complementarily with other healthcare providers, including (but not limited to): medical doctors, occupational therapists, massage therapists, kinesiologists, physiotherapists, naturopathic doctors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, dentists, dieticians etc. Partnering with other healthcare professionals can build a strong network of resources that will benefit patients in the long term.

Each health discipline brings a unique perspective to the healthcare team and can improve the patient experience and satisfaction. By partnering with other healthcare providers to tackle chronic and complex conditions, professionals are able to address physical, psychological and social needs of patients, and provide better coordination of care. Optimizing care through referral networks or collaborative teams allows practitioners to help mitigate the burden of chronic conditions and comorbidities.

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