According to Wikipedia: The musculoskeletal system (also known as
the locomotor system) is an organ system that gives animals (including humans)
the ability to move using the muscular and skeletal systems. The musculoskeletal
system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body. It is made up
of the body's bones (the skeleton), muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints,
and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together.
The musculoskeletal system's primary functions include supporting the body,
allowing motion, and protecting vital organs. The skeletal portion of the system
serves as the main storage system for calcium and phosphorus and contains
critical components of the hematopoietic system.
Musculoskeletal conditions range from neck, mid and low back pain to certain type of
headaches and arm and leg pain. Most sports injuries are musculoskeletal in nature as
well and most degenerative conditions (arthritis) that prevents the use of an limb over
time. If it has to do with moving, lifting, sitting or carrying, it is usually a musculoskeletal
condition responsible for the inability to perform that action, or have pain with
completing the task related to movement.
In a recent article written by Humphreys, Sulkowski, McIntyre, Kasiban,
and Patrick (2007), they stated, “In the United States, approximately 10% to 25% of
all visits to primary care medical doctors are for MSK [musculoskeletal] complaints,
making it one of the most common reasons for consulting a physician…Specifically, it
has been estimated that less than 5% of the undergraduate and graduate medical
curriculum in the United States and 2.26% in Canadian medical schools is devoted to
MSK medicine” (p. 44).
Musculoskeletal complaints have a major impact on the healthcare system and although
many patients believe that traditional providers are highly trained, recent publications
relating to basic competency have shown otherwise. For example, the authors cited
another study stating, “A study by Childs et al on the physical therapists’ knowledge in
managing MSK conditions found that only 21% of students working on their master’s
degree in physical therapy and 25% of students working on their doctorate degree in
physical therapy achieved a passing mark on the BCE [Basic Competency Evaluation]”
(Humphreys et al., 2007, p. 45).
The authors reported, “The objective of this study was to examine the cognitive
(knowledge) competency of final-year chiropractic students in MSK [musculoskeletal]
medicine" (Humphreys et al., 2007, p. 45). "The typical chiropractic curriculum consists
of 4800 hours of education composed of courses in the biological sciences (ie, anatomy,
embryology, histology, microbiology, pathology, laboratory diagnosis, biochemistry,
nutrition, and psychology), chiropractic sciences, and clinical sciences (ie, clinical
diagnosis, neurodiagnosis, orthorheumatology, radiology, and psychology). As the
diagnosis, treatment, and management of MSK disorders are the primary focus of the
undergraduate curriculum as well as future clinical practice, it seems logical that
chiropractic graduates should possess competence in basic MSK medicine” (Humphreys
et al., 2007, p. 45).
The following results were published in this paper for the Basic Competency
Examination and various professions that are in the front line of the diagnosis and
treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. In Table 2 on page 47, the following results
were shown when the passing score was established at 73% or greater:
Recent medical graduates (18%), medical students, residents, and staff physicians
(20.7%), osteopathic students (29.6%) physical therapy (MSc level, 21%), physical
therapy (doctorate level, 26%), chiropractic students (51.5%).
In Table 2 on page 47, the following results were show when the passing score was
established at 70% or greater.
Recent medical graduates (22%), medical students, residents, and staff physicians (NA),
osteopathic students (33%) physical therapy (MSc level, NA), physical therapy
(doctorate level, NA), chiropractic students (64.7%).
Although many professions offer significant training in musculoskeletal conditions,
chiropractors, based upon their training and outcomes in comparative studies are shown
to be highly competent in caring for musculoskeletal conditions. It is therefore in the
public's best interest to consider chiropractic as a "first-line" treatment option or the
primary care for "all things musculoskeletal."
1. Human Musculoskeletal System, Retrieved from:
2. Humphreys, B. K., Sulkowski, A., McIntyre, K., Kasiban, M., &
Patrick, A. N. (2007). An examination of musculoskeletal
cognitive competency in chiropractic interns. Journal of
Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 30(1), 44-49.