Difference Between Chiropractor & Rheumatologist

Patients who are having difficulty moving parts of their body may need to see a chiropractor or a rheumatologist. Chiropractors and rheumatologists treat patients with different conditions. Read on to learn more about how these careers compare.

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Comparing Chiropractors to Rheumatologists

Chiropractors and rheumatologists are medical experts who specialize in treating patients with different conditions through different methods. Rheumatologist are required to have more education and they earn a substantially higher salary than chiropractors do.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Chiropractors Doctoral degree $59,577 10%
Rheumatologists Doctoral degree, residency and fellowship $196,873 17% (internists, general)

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Chiropractors vs. Rheumatologists

Chiropractors and rheumatologists both see patients and assess patients so that they can properly diagnose their condition. Chiropractors provide treatments to the spine, bones and connective tissues such as muscles and tendons. They may use massage therapy and manipulation in order to treat their patients. Rheumatologists specifically focus on medical problems related to a person's joints. They may be responsible for performing tests to diagnose the patient and administering treatments using injections and other methods. They are qualified to prescribe medications to patients, which is something chiropractors are not qualified to do.


When people have problems with their neuromusculoskeletal system they may seek treatment from a chiropractor. Chiropractors treat conditions such as back or knee pain. Other types of issues they treat include problems with a patient's tendons or other parts of the body that relate to movement. Most work in a medical office with other chiropractors or have their own office. They need to be reasonably fit and capable of spending much of their work time on their feet.

Job responsibilities of a chiropractor include:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Diagnosing patients
  • Determining the best way to treat patients
  • Manipulating affected parts of the patient's body
  • Updating medical files
  • Providing health care information to patients


Rheumatologists are medical specialists who must complete a residency in internal medicine as well as a fellowship in rheumatology after earning their medical degree. They specifically focus on treating patients who have medical issues related to their joints. One of the most common conditions their patients suffer from is arthritis. They may work in hospitals, medical offices or clinics. Their specific hours may vary based on where they work. They need to have compassion and good interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with patients and other medical professionals.

Job responsibilities of a rheumatologist include:

  • Examining patients
  • Identifying the patient's condition
  • Educating patients about their condition
  • Determining the appropriate treatment
  • Prescribing medication
  • Performing diagnostic tests

Related Careers

Those considering a career as a chiropractor or rheumatologist may be interested in being a physical therapist or an occupational therapist because physical and occupational therapists work with individuals who have difficulty moving or performing specific motor functions. They diagnose patients and implement treatment plans designed to manage their pain, increase their range of motion and help them perform routine daily tasks.

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