J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 Mar-Apr;25(3):E2.
The use and role of sport chiropractors in the national football league: a short report.
To analyze chiropractic utilization on National Football League (NFL) medical teams and the role played by chiropractors.
Postal survey of head athletic trainers of the 36 teams. Survey questions were developed from responses to a questionnaire submitted to a pilot group of 30 sport chiropractors and a panel of 20 postdoctoral faculty of the sport chiropractic program of the American Chiropractic Board of Sport Physicians, as well as a representative from the University of South Alabama.
Twenty-two of 36 questionnaires were returned for a return rate of 66%. Of the trainers who did respond, 45% have personally been treated by a chiropractor, and 55% have not. Seventy-seven percent of the trainers have referred to a chiropractor for evaluation or treatment, and 23% have not. Thirty-one percent of NFL teams use a chiropractor in an official capacity on their staffs, and 69% do not. When asked to identify conditions appropriate for referral to a chiropractor, the respondents identified low back pain (61%), "stingers" and "burners" usually associated with neck injury (31%), headaches (8%), asthma or other visceral disorders (0%). All respondents (100%) agree that some players use chiropractic care without referral from team medical staff.
There is significant chiropractic participation in US professional football. Certified athletic trainers see a role for the sport chiropractor in the NFL, primarily as a spinal specialist treating low back and other musculoskeletal injuries. A substantial majority of NFL trainers have developed cooperative relationships with chiropractors, with 77% having referred a player to a chiropractor. Thirty-one percent of NFL teams have a chiropractor officially on staff, and an additional 12% of teams refer players to chiropractors but do not directly retain these chiropractors.