Chiropractors and Prescriptions: What Can They Prescribe?

You’re experiencing some back pain, and a neighbor recommends you see a chiropractor.

You’ve never been to a chiropractor, but you know they are primary care providers who treat pain. Sounds like a good plan.

After all, you want relief from your pain. That pain has started to impact your day-to-day life, and you’ve had enough. You’re wondering if the chiropractor can write you a prescription for pain meds while you’re receiving treatment with them.

But wait–can a chiropractor prescribe medication?

It’s a common question.

Read on to learn about chiropractors, their methods for reducing and eliminating pain, and what chiropractors can and cannot prescribe. 

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Can Chiropractors Write Prescriptions?

The answer to this question isn’t completely black and white.

Can a chiropractor write a prescription? 


However, chiropractors may not write prescriptions easily filled at the local pharmacy.


Read on. This article will clarify things for you.

Can Chiropractors Prescribe Medicine?

To put it simply, no. 

In most states in the U.S., chiropractors are not licensed to prescribe medications.

Yes, you typically refer to chiropractors as Dr. (fill-in-the-blank). 

Yes, in Oregon, for example, chiropractors are licensed and referred to as primary care providers (PCPs); however, it is with the exception that they cannot prescribe medication.

There is one state in the U.S. where chiropractors can legally prescribe medicine. 

In New Mexico, the state legislature passed a law allowing certain “advanced chiropractors” to prescribe medications.

The New Mexico law is somewhat controversial as more traditional chiropractors feel the use of prescription medications (often loaded with synthetic chemicals) is contrary to the goals of the practice of chiropractic care.

Can a Chiropractor Write Prescriptions for Other Services?

While chiropractors can’t prescribe medications, they can write prescriptions for other services and treatments, such as:

  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint braces or tape
  • Heat/ice therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Chinese ‘medications’
  • And more

Why is this important?

Chiropractors could certainly just recommend these therapies to complement your chiropractic care. However, if that’s the case, you can likely expect to pay out of pocket.

However, if your chiropractor prescribes massage therapy, physical therapy, etc., it is possible that insurance companies will cover some or all of the costs of those treatments or services. Your insurance provider will likely require a “referral” or “prescription” in order for these to be covered.

A Key Component of Chiropractic Care Is Avoiding Prescription Medications When Possible

There is certainly a place for prescription medication.

However, there is a marked difference between pharmaceutical care and avoiding prescription medications through chiropractic care, when it is possible, 

At the same time, prescription medication only masks pain, while chiropractic care gets to the root of that pain and then addresses it more holistically.  

The Purpose of Prescription Medications

Prescription medication is often a short-term fix to reduce or eliminate pain. It’s true that oftentimes these medications can provide more immediate relief. However, medications simply mask or alleviate the symptoms while the underlying issue remains.

If the cause of the symptoms isn’t addressed, the pain will likely return over time.

It is also important to note that with many prescription medications, there are also risks of side effects.

The Purpose of Chiropractic Care

If you’re experiencing pain, it’s crucial to find the root of the issue and then work to treat it.

The purpose of chiropractic care is to reduce and eventually eliminate your pain without the use of:

  • Pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatories; and
  • Muscle relaxants 

Chiropractic care is natural and non-invasive. It also provides a much longer, more permanent fix. Keep in mind that getting to that place may take multiple adjustments, accompanied by additional chiropractic methods of care, depending on the issue.

4 Options for Holistic Pain Management That Provide Safe and Effective Alternatives to Prescription Medications

Instead of relying on prescription medications, consider managing pain holistically, with one or more of these methods:

  • Chiropractic interventions
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal medications
  • Massage therapy

#1: Chiropractic Interventions

A chiropractor looks at the entire musculoskeletal system, ensuring that joints are moving properly and surrounding muscles are strong and well-functioning. 

A chiropractor’s goal is to find the root of your pain (often caused by misalignment) and to treat it. 

Chiropractic interventions are used to improve musculoskeletal pain (lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and more) and can include:

  • Manual adjustments
  • The Graston Technique
  • Activator Adjustments
  • Interferential Current Therapy
  • Kinesiotaping

The chiropractors at Therapia Wellness Clinic are experts at each of these types of chiropractic interventions.

Manual Adjustments

When you think of chiropractic care, manual adjustments probably come to mind.

This is where the chiropractor uses pressure via the hands to effectively move joints and correct any misalignment. Manual adjustments are performed with quick motions, and the adjustments typically do not hurt; however, you may feel a popping or cracking sensation. 

These adjustments are an ideal way to keep the body functioning at its highest level and free of pain. 

When our body is in alignment, it is able to respond and perform at its optimal level.

The Graston Technique

The Graston Technique is a type of manual therapy used by: 

  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Osteopathic doctors 
  • Athletic trainers; and
  • Massage therapists 

This technique is also known as soft-tissue instrument-assisted mobilization. This form of manual therapy utilizes specialized instruments to massage or gently “scrape” the skin to identify areas of restriction in your body. 

The goals of the Graston Technique can be to:

  • Loosen fascia restrictions associated with acute soft tissue injuries 
  • Break down scar tissue
  • Stretch connective tissues

Activator Adjustments

Activator adjustments are an alternative to manual manipulation and are considered to be a ‘softer’ chiropractic technique.

The activator is a small, handheld device, which is used to deliver quick, low-force impulses to the spine. With this technique, the body’s muscles are less likely to tense up in response to the pressure.

This method is especially effective in areas where multiple joints along the chain can be injured.

Activator adjustments are also ideal for patients who are anxious about receiving manual adjustments.

Interferential Current Therapy

Interferential current therapy (or IFC) is a common type of electrical muscle stimulation. It is used to treat chronic pain, whether it be from surgery, injury, or other trauma.

IFC is safe, painless, and non-invasive

Using a machine, small amounts of electrical stimulation are delivered to the damaged tissues in the body. These currents help to boost the body’s healing abilities by increasing blood flow and promoting the production of healing hormones. 

IFC is a common and effective method of treatment for:

  • Muscle strains
  • Joint pain
  • Sports injuries
  • And more


Ever watch a tennis match or NFL football game and notice athletes with tape on their legs, arms, or shoulders?

It likely isn’t regular, white athletic tape. It’s probably kinesiology tape, which allows the skin and fascia to be lifted, facilitating blood flow which speeds up the healing process.

Here’s the thing––you don’t need to be a professional athlete to benefit from kinesiotaping. 

Alongside manual adjustments and other forms of chiropractic care, this special tape is applied to the body strategically to:

  • Add stability while maintaining (or even increasing) range of motion
  • Mechanically block unwanted movement
  • Facilitate proper firing sequences of the muscles through neurological stimulation

There’s a reason pro athletes turn to kinesiotaping––it works. And it may work for you too. 

#2: Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves inserting thin needles through a person’s skin at certain points of the body and at various depths.

The practice may relieve pain by releasing endorphins. It has been known to treat everything from headaches to low back pain and more.

#3: Herbal Medications

In some cases, Chinese herbal medications have been found to be effective in treating inflammatory, neuropathic pain. This can include pain from:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Nerve pain
  • Joint pain

There’s a reason Traditional Chinese Medicine goes back thousands of years. It is known to be effective in some patients. 

At Therapia Wellness Clinic, we believe these herbal medications can complement chiropractic care but not replace it.

#4: Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the manipulation of soft tissues, including:

  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Connective tissue; and
  • Skin

A great option for decreasing stress, massage therapy also provides relief from:

  • Tension
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Chronic headaches 

Massage therapy may be an ideal complement to your chiropractic treatment.

Therapia Wellness Clinic: Your Choice for Safe, Natural, and Effective Chiropractic Care

Are you suffering from:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Whiplash from a car accident or other injury
  • Joint pain in the shoulders, arms, legs, etc.

If so, chiropractic care may be the answer for you.

Don’t mask the discomfort and pain with medication. It’s time to find the root of the problem and correct it. 

Through personalized healthcare that is safe, gentle, and effective, Therapia Wellness Clinic combines Eastern and Western techniques to help our patients to flourish and thrive.

Therapia Wellness Clinic provides complete care

Upon your first visit, our licensed chiropractors will discuss your medical history and perform a physical exam. From there, we’ll design a treatment plan tailored specifically for you, your symptoms, and your personal goals. 

At TWC, we strive to offer the highest quality of care in SW Portland through a variety of modalities adapted to the unique needs of our patients. 

And, at Therapia Wellness Clinic, you won’t feel like you’re being treated in the cold, sterile environment of a typical doctor’s office. 

We want you to feel relaxed and comfortable. Come experience the remarkable benefits of acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage services provided in our tranquil environment.

You only get one body. You deserve to treat it well. Therapia Wellness Clinic can help.