Science In Brief

Chiropractic Literature Review


The Study: Patient characteristics upon initial presentation to chiropractic teaching clinics: A descriptive study conducted at one university

The Facts:

  1. This review is going to be a little different as I wish to use this study to discuss the type of patients most chiropractors are treating.
  2. The authors looked at the chief complaints and ICDA 9 codes of new patients presenting at Logan University's fee-for-service clinics compared to the patient population of U.S. chiropractors. (For this review we will look only at the chief complaints as there is a point I wish to make regarding the presenting complaint.)
  3. "...nearly all chief complaints were musculoskeletal..."
  4. The most frequent chief complaint at the Logan clinics was low back pain (31.3%) as compared to 23.6% across the U.S. This was followed by lower extremity pain (21%) at Logan compared to 8.8% across the U.S. Neck pain made up 16.5% of the Logan patients compared to the 18.7% nationwide. Mid back was 9.8% in the population compared to 11.5% of the US group. Upper extremity was 8.5% at Logan and 8.3% in the US. And finally, Headache/facial pain was 7.1% at Logan and in the 12.0% of the US patients.
  5. Wellness at Logan was 1.8% and 8.0% in the US.
  6. Nonmusculoskeletal was 1.3% compared to 2.5% in the US.

Take Home:

The great majority of chief complaints were musculoskeletal in nature.

Reviewer's Comments:

First I want to thank the authors for writing this article. It is important to periodically look at ourselves in this manner. As you can see, the vast majority of cases are coming to chiropractors for musculoskeletal problems. Now I want to say that I've talked to other OLD chiropractors like myself and while we also treated mostly musculoskeletal problems, years ago we seem to remember that we treated more non-musculoskeletal problems than is done today.

I started practice in 1974 and my impression is that chiropractic has moved away from a more broad-based health care system to what is now a profession related almost exclusively focused on musculoskeletal problems. I would like your input on this. Please e-mail me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let me know your thoughts as to whether or not our profession has become much more focused on musculoskeletal problems only over the years. And if so, is that a good or a bad thing?

If you do e-mail me please let me know if you are a student or how many years you have been in practice. I would like to get a feel for how our readers feel about this subject.


Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC

Reference: Kaeser MA, Hawk C, Anderson M. Patient characteristics upon initial presentation to chiropractic teaching clinics: A descriptive study conducted at one university. J Chiropr Educ. 2014;28:146-51.

Link to Abstract:

You are not authorised to post comments.

Comments will undergo moderation before they get published.

Comments powered by CComment

Sign up/Logon for Free Subscription


Follow Us


Need help or more information?

Contact Us

Subscribe today


Science In Brief 

Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.