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Chiropractic Research Review

Survey Highlights Work-Related Injuries for DCs

The profession of chiropractic is more physical than many careers and the adjustments and treatments involved can be very taxing on the DCs who perform them. Two professors from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic decided to study the prevalence and types of work-related injuries among a national sample of chiropractors and to categorize the factors associated with these types of injuries.

Researchers sent out a survey to 1,000 indiscriminately selected doctors of chiropractic in the United States which asked them to document their three most serious injuries.

The questionnaire asked about the type of injury, the area of the body that was affected, the action performed at that time, the year of practice when the injury occurred, if the DC took time off from work, and what, if anything, was changed as a result of the injury.

The professors received a total of 422 responses in total, yielding 397 useable surveys. Out of the questionnaires, 159 chiropractors (40.1 percent) reported experiencing a total of 252 work-related injuries. A majority of the injuries were classified as soft tissue injuries and occurred while either performing (66.7 percent) or positioning (11.1 percent) a patient for manipulation. The body parts most commonly affected were the wrist/hand/finger (42.9 percent), shoulder (25.8 percent), and low back (24.6 percent). The main areas of manipulation that the doctors were working on while the injury took place were the lumbosacral (37.1 percent) and thoracic spine (21.6 percent). Generally, the shoulder and low back injuries were more likely caused by adjustments of the lumbosacral spine with the patient in the side-lying position. The injuries commonly occurred in the first to fifth year of practice (37.3 percent). The results also showed that 5.4 percent of the injuries occurred while the DCs were attending chiropractic college.

The study concluded that mostly upper extremity injuries were reported by the group surveyed. Most often, these injuries were related to side-posture manipulation to the lumbar spine. Since most of the injuries occurred at the beginning of their careers and required a change in technique, the authors recommend greater efforts toward injury prevention education should be taught to chiropractic students.


Holm S, Rose K. Work-related injuries of doctors of chiropractic in the United States. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29(7):518-523.

Chiropractic Research Review

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