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Better With Age

It's widely known that some things improve over time, such as a fine wine or a strong marriage. A recent study on chiropractic patient populations shows that chiropractic treatment may be another example.

There have been radical changes in chiropractic legislation and integration with other forms of health care in the last half-century, and chiropractors increasingly practice at hospital clinics and in government positions. This study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics evaluated the characteristics of a typical chiropractic patient over this same time period.

Researchers compared 1962 and 1999 surveys of the Danish chiropractic population. The majority of chiropractors (approximately 50) in Denmark in 1962 had been evaluated; data from over 1,100 patients were available on the location and duration of pain, number of treatments and treatment outcome. In 1999, similar data were gathered for almost 2,000 patients.

In 1962, nearly 50% of chiropractic patients had suffered from their condition for over one year. However, only 20% of patients suffered for over one year in 1999. Also in 1962, 11% of patients complained of headache, compared to just 4% in 1999. The authors found the results of the surveys to otherwise be "remarkably similar." Approximately 70% of patients had lower-back or neck disorders in both surveys, and less than 10% of patients complained of other disorders (asthma, neurologic disorders, allergies, etc.) in each survey.

Most chiropractors today principally treat pain syndromes related to the spine, as they always have. This study also shows that patients visiting chiropractors now are less likely to still be suffering after one year than patients in the past. The fact that chiropractors have stayed focused on the treatment methods unique to this form of health care may help explain this improvement over time.


Hartvigsen J, Bolding-Jensen O, et al. Danish chiropractic patients then and now - A comparison between 1962 and 1999. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2003:26(2), pp. 65-69.

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