Background: Approximately 60% of people with low back pain also have associated leg pain symptoms. Guidelines for low back pain recommend non-pharmacological approaches, including spinal manipulation - a therapy provided by chiropractors. However, limited empirical data has examined the characteristics of chiropractors managing patients with low back-related leg pain (LBRLP). Our objective is to describe the prevalence, profile and practice characteristics of Australian chiropractors who often treat LBRLP, compared to those who do not often treat LBRLP.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative sample from the Australian Chiropractic Research Network (ACORN). This study investigated the demographic and practice characteristics as well as clinical management of chiropractors who ‘often’ treated patients with LBRLP compared to those who treated LBRLP ‘never/rarely/sometimes’. Multiple logistic regression models identified independent factors associated with chiropractors who ‘often’ treated patients with LBRLP.
Results: A total of 1907 chiropractors reported treating patients experiencing LBRLP, with 80.9% of them ‘often’ treating LBRLP. Chiropractors who ‘often’ treated LBRLP were more likely to manage patients with multi-site pain including axial low back pain (OR = 21.1), referred/radicular neck pain (OR = 10.8) and referred/radicular thoracic pain (OR = 3.1). While no specific management strategies were identified, chiropractors who ‘often’ treated LBRLP were more likely to discuss medication (OR = 1.8), manage migraine (OR = 1.7) and degenerative spine conditions (OR = 1.5), and treat women during pregnancy (OR = 1.6) and people with work-related injuries (OR = 1.5), compared to those not treating LBRLP frequently.
Conclusions: Australian chiropractors frequently manage LBRLP, although the nature of specific management approaches for this condition remains unclear. Further research on the management of LBRLP can better inform policy makers and educators interested in upskilling chiropractors to deliver safe and effective treatment of LBRLP.
Author keywords: Low back pain — Leg pain — Referred — Radicular — Chiropractic — Chiropractor — Practice-based research network
Author affiliations: MF, KdL: Department of Chiropractic, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW Australia; MF, CM, KdL, KAP, MS: Chiropractic Academy for Research Leadership (CARL), Sydney, Australia; CM, JA: Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW Australia; KP: Research Institute, Parker University, Dallas, Texas USA
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