Do I Need a Doctor’s Referral to See a Chiropractor?


There are all sorts of strange beliefs floating around out there about chiropractors. Some people think you should only see a chiropractor after you’ve suffered an injury. Others believe that chiropractic care isn’t based on science. Luckily, both these assumptions are wrong. But what about a more persistent question: Do you need a referral to see a chiropractor?

In the United States, chiropractors are primary care doctors, which means you do NOT need a referral to see one. You don’t need to ask your doctor’s permission before heading off to see a chiropractor, although it’s a good idea to keep your physician updated with all the care you receive. 

Read on to learn more about when you should go to a chiropractor, and how chiropractic care can benefit and supplement other care you receive.

Can You Go To a Chiropractor For No Reason?

There are many reasons to see a chiropractor. While most people book a chiropractic appointment when they’re experiencing pain, this is not the only time you can see a chiropractor.

Since doctors of chiropractic are considered primary care providers, you don’t need a reason, excuse, or outside approval to go see one. If you want to see a chiropractor, go for it.

Most people see chiropractors when they experience one of the following:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Hip pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Sciatica
  • Poor posture
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Nerve pain

However, many people go to the chiropractor regularly, even if they’re not experiencing pain or discomfort. This is because there are many benefits that come along with chiropractic care and because chiropractic care is regarded favorably by those who have experience with it.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Many people find chiropractic care relaxing and helpful for maintaining range of motion throughout the body. And since many chiropractors also make use of massage therapy and physical therapy, there’s a wide range of benefits to be had. Although they seem similar, there are some differences between massage and chiropractic care that make them uniquely suited to work together.

Some people head to the chiropractor simply to feel better overall. In fact, women often go to the chiropractor even while pregnant to experience relaxation, stress relief, reduced swelling, and reduced back pain, among other things.

The major benefits of chiropractic care include:

  • Pain relief
  • Headache relief
  • Better posture
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved circulation
  • Better sleep
  • More energy
  • Reduced dependence on dangerous painkillers
  • Helps prevent certain types of arthritis
  • Reduced swelling

When you consider all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that many professional and amateur athletes use chiropractic care regularly.

Do You Need a Script to See a Chiropractor?

Just as you don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor, you don’t need a script or a prescription, either. This is for the same reason that you don’t need a referral. Although chiropractors are specialists in the musculoskeletal system, they are primary care doctors, so there are no limitations on when or how often you can use their expertise.

This is good because studies show a higher level of satisfaction with chiropractic care than seeing a family physician. One study showed that chiropractic patients were three times more likely to report high satisfaction with their care than those patients of a family physician for low back pain treatments.

Can a Chiropractor Refer to a Specialist?

As primary care doctors, chiropractors can — and often do — refer their patients to specialists. It’s common for chiropractors to work with a wide range of other medical professionals, depending on the needs of their patients.

For example, chiropractors are often the first stop for people with back pain. This is because the medical community agrees that conservative treatments (like chiropractic care) should be tried first before things like surgery are considered.

So, if a patient is suffering from severe back pain, a chiropractor will do what he or she can to relieve the pain and address the underlying issue. For the majority of back pain patients, a chiropractor is enough.

But a small percentage of patients may actually need surgery. At which point, the chiropractor will recommend a specialist to the patient, and share the files and treatment protocol with that specialist to ensure the patient gets the best care possible.

Chiropractic Referral FAQs

There are many questions patients have about chiropractic care. From things like “what should I wear to my chiropractic appointment?” to “will my insurance cover chiropractic care?” So in this section, we’ll answer the most common referral questions we get about chiropractic referrals.

Do You Need a Referral to See a Chiropractor With Blue Cross Blue Shield?

Since chiropractic care is considered primary care in all fifty states, and since Blue Cross Blue Shield plans cover most or all chiropractic services, you usually don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor. However, there are many different plans offered by BCBS, and the plans tend to differ by state, so it’s a good idea to check the details of your specific plan to see.

If you’re hoping to come to see us at Better Health Chiropractic, you can always contact us and we’ll check your insurance for you. We do accept BCBS, and one of our insurance specialists will check your specific plan to tell you what will be covered for your care.

Do You Need a Referral to See a Chiropractor With Medicare?

Most Medicare plans don’t require you to get a referral to see a chiropractor. Since Medicare covers chiropractic care for subluxations, you should be fine to see a chiropractor without a referral. The only possible exception to this would be if you have an Advantage plan, in which case a referral might be required.

Do You Need a Referral to See a Chiropractor With Medicaid?

Most Medicaid plans don’t require you to get a referral to see a chiropractor. However, since Medicaid varies from state to state, it’s best to check first for details. For example, in Alaska, chiropractic care for children under six needs a referral. Again, if you’re unsure about your coverage, contact us and we’ll check for you.

Can You See a Chiropractor Without Insurance?

You can absolutely see a chiropractor without insurance. Most chiropractors provide beneficial payment options for those without insurance. Some may even offer a discount for those who pay in cash. The average cost of seeing a chiropractor without insurance is around $125.


The vast majority of insurance companies don’t require you to get a referral to see a chiropractor. The same can be said for Medicare and Medicaid coverage. Although keep in mind that there are some unique circumstances where your insurance may require a referral if they’re going to cover the cost of care. But, chiropractic care is considered a form of primary care in all fifty states, so you can walk into a chiropractic clinic and get care without any issues.

Visit Your Trusted Chiropractor

Looking for the most trusted and best-reviewed chiropractor near you, visit us today at 8840 Old Seward Hwy E, Anchorage, Alaska. We’re the only chiropractic clinic that offers the proprietary Alaska Back Pain Protocol, which we’ve used to help thousands of Alaskans overcome their back pain in our 20+ years in business.


Dr. Brent Wells

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells is an actively practicing chiropractic physician that has personally led over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and Juneau where he brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.
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