Objective: The purpose of this study was to document the quantity and type of research conducted on the chiropractic management of lower extremity conditions.
Methods: A review of the literature was conducted using the CINAHL, MEDLINE, MANTIS, and Science Direct databases (each from inception to December 15, 2005). Search terms included chiropractic, hip, knee, ankle, foot, with Medical Subject Heading terms for each region. Inclusion criteria included studies with a lower extremity diagnosis, and the treatment was performed by doctors of chiropractic. Articles were excluded if pain was referred from spinal sites and if there was a duplicate publication; articles published in non-peer-reviewed literature and abstracts in conference proceedings were also excluded. Of the articles identified, an analysis was conducted assessing those including peripheral and/or spinal treatment. Clinical trials were assessed for quality using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale.
Results: There was a total of 1652 citations. Of these, 76 were deemed relevant; 24 were related to the foot, 10 to the ankle, 25 to the knee, and 17 to the hip. Twenty-nine citations included spinal treatment, 47 solely peripheral, and 2 solely spinal. Ten citations were clinical trials and scored on the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale.
Conclusions: Literature on the chiropractic management of lower extremity conditions has a large number of case studies (level 4 evidence) and a smaller number of higher-level publications (level 1-3 evidence). The management available in the peer-reviewed literature is predominantly multimodal and contains combined spinal and peripheral components. Future chiropractic research should use higher-level research designs, such as randomized controlled trials.