The treatment of migraine patients within chiropractic: Analysis of a nationally representative survey of 1869 chiropractors

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017, 17 (1)
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© 2017 The Author(s). Background: While the clinical role of manual therapies in migraine management is unclear, the use of chiropractors for this condition is considerable. The aim of this study is to evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of chiropractors who frequently manage patients with migraine. Methods: A national cross-sectional survey of chiropractors collected information on practitioner characteristics, clinical management characteristics and practice settings. A secondary analysis was conducted on 1869 respondents who reported on their migraine caseload to determine the predictors associated with the frequent management of patients with migraine. Results: A large proportion of chiropractors report having a high migraine caseload (HMC) (n = 990; 53.0%). The strongest factors predicting a chiropractor having a HMC include the frequent treatment of patients with axial neck pain (OR = 2.89; 95%CI: 1.18, 7.07), thoracic pain (referred/radicular) (OR = 2.52; 95%CI: 1.58, 3.21) and non-musculoskeletal disorders (OR = 3.06; 95%CI: 2.13, 4.39). Conclusions: Several practice-setting and clinical management characteristics are associated with chiropractors managing a HMC. These findings raise key questions about the therapeutic approach to chiropractic migraine management that deserves further examination. There is a need for more primary research to assess the approach to headache and migraine management provided by chiropractors and to understand the prevalence, burden and comorbidities associated with migraine found within chiropractic patient populations. This information is vital in helping to inform safe, effective and coordinated care for migraine sufferers within the wider health system.
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