What Doctor for Neck & Shoulder Pain?


Neck and shoulder pain are treated by doctors who specialize in the musculoskeletal system. They include doctors of osteopathic medicine, chiropractors and physical therapists.


  • Neck and shoulder pain can be a result of injury from work, playing sports or a car accident, and it could also be due to a deformity of the spine, disc compression or arthritis.


  • A doctor of osteopathic medicine, also known as a D.O. or doctor of orthopedics, must complete eight years of training in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. A doctor with this training can specialize in sports medicine, treating athletes and their injuries or performing surgery to correct skeletal and joint conditions.


  • Chiropractors are doctors get 4 years of undergraduate education and then four more years studying in a chiropractic college. Chiropractors adjust the musculoskeletal system to treat the whole body, focusing on holistic, natural, non-surgical treatments such as massage therapy, ultrasound, electric therapy, acupuncture and heat therapy.

Physical Therapist

  • A physical therapist is either trained as a doctor or has completed six years of an accredited physical therapy program. A doctor may send a patient to a physical therapist for treatment of neck and shoulder pain. Physical therapists put patients through a series of exercises and stretches to treat their condition. They can also do many of the same types of treatments as can chiropractors.


  • There are some differences between the types of doctors who treat neck and shoulder pain. Osteopathic doctors and chiropractors can both do X-rays and diagnose conditions. Physical therapists usually treat the patient after a doctor has already made the diagnosis. Osteopathic doctors are the only ones who can perform surgery to correct conditions.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of The U.S. Army
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