Chiropractic Treatment in Sports: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Written by FICS

October 12, 2021

Reviewer: Dr Claudio Merkier, Bed, BSc, DC, CCEP, ICCSP, FFTP, MSc ,FRCC (Sports)

  1. Reference: Thiele, R. (2019) Chiropractic Treatment in Sports: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials, International Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 6 (2), pp. 6-12. Available from: Click here for full paper
  1. Introduction: Since 1980, chiropractic has been used at the Olympic Games to accompany the USA’s top athletes therapeutically. The rapidly developing professional sports sector offers great scope for new therapeutic support for athletes in the areas of prevention, performance improvement, injury treatment and medical rehabilitation. 
  1. Objectives: The aim of this systematic review was to analyse the latest scientific findings, which can be evaluated on the basis of existing clinical controlled studies. The present article deals with the question: How efficient is the use of chiropractic in sports in the above-mentioned areas? 
  1. Methods: The research is carried out in the PubMed database. The evidence level of the individual studies is determined using the PEDro scale. The studies with evidence class I are evaluated in tabular form according to the PICO model. Endpoints assessed are grip strength in judo athletes, ankle injuries, medical rehabilitation with recurrent ankle sprains, jet lag symptoms.
  1. Results: The literature review includes 232 researched articles 8 on the subject, including 3 systematic reviews and 5 randomized clinical trials, of which 4 include evaluable results. Overall, in 3 studies, outcomes in the intervention group for performance enhancement, injury treatment and medical rehabilitation are significantly improved using chiropractic care. The jet lag treatment shows no differences compared to the control group.
  1. Conclusion: In 3 out of 4 studies, there are significant improvements with the use of chiropractic in therapy. Thus, it can be concluded, that the use of chiropractic in sports can improve performance and reduce injury times in medical rehabilitation. Chiropractic in sports is therefore quite efficient.
  1. Keywords: Sports, Chiropractic, Manipulation, Review, Rehabilitation, Athletes.
  1. Critique: This paper concludes that it is necessary to publish further studies before a conclusion can be drawn that “chiropractic in sports is quite efficient”. The conclusion is based on 3 studies with a high PEDro score rating. However, the total number of participants in the intervention groups included in the results were 9 (Botelho and Andrade), 15 (Lubbe et al.), and 15 (Pellow and Brantingham). The first study is on cervical manipulation while the other two are on ankle manipulation. There is a considerable gap in the sports chiropractic literature to make conclude much at all. A conclusion highlighting the limited literature of the supporting evidence and an inability to draw a meaningful conclusion would be more appropriate.

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