Characteristics of Chiropractic Patients Being Treated for Chronic Low Back and Neck Pain

Published in: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 41, Issue 6, pages 445-455 (July-August 2018). doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2018.02.001

Posted on RAND.org on June 11, 2019

by Patricia M. Herman, Mallika Kommareddi, Melony E. Sorbero, Carolyn M. Rutter, Ron D. Hays, Lara Hilton, Gery W. Ryan, Ian D. Coulter

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Objectives

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) and chronic neck pain (CNP) are the most common types of chronic pain, and chiropractic spinal manipulation is a common nonpharmacologic treatment. This study presents the characteristics of a large United States sample of chiropractic patients with CLBP and CNP.

Methods

Data were collected from chiropractic patients using multistage systematic stratified sampling with 4 sampling levels: regions and states, sites (ie, metropolitan areas), providers and clinics, and patients. The sites and regions were San Diego, California; Tampa, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Seneca Falls and Upstate New York; Portland, Oregon; and Dallas, Texas. Data were collected from patients through an iPad-based prescreening questionnaire in the clinic and emailed links to full screening and baseline online questionnaires. The goal was 20 providers or clinics and 7 patients with CLBP and 7 with CNP from each clinic.

Results

We had 6342 patients at 125 clinics complete the prescreening questionnaire, 3333 patients start the full screening questionnaire, and 2024 eligible patients completed the baseline questionnaire: 518 with CLBP only, 347 with CNP only, and 1159 with both. In general, most of this sample were highly-educated, non-Hispanic, white females with at least partial insurance coverage for chiropractic care who have been in pain and using chiropractic care for years. Over 90% reported high satisfaction with their care, few used narcotics, and avoiding surgery was the most important reason they chose chiropractic care.

Conclusions

Given the prevalence of CLBP and CNP, the need to find effective nonpharmacologic alternatives for chronic pain, and the satisfaction these patients found with their care, further study of these patients is worthwhile.

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