Life-Threatening Conditions That Walk:
A Clinician’s Review
SOURCE: J Amer Chiropr Assoc 2013 (Sept); 50 (5): 8-17
David J. Schimp, DC, DACNB, DAAPM
Clinician and Associate Professor
Texas Chiropractic College
Dr. Schimp describes the six most common undiagnosed life-threatening conditions encountered by chiropractors.
Chiropractors are hybrid physicians with a broad skill set. DCs need the diagnostic acumen of orthopedists and neurologists, a fine manual therapist’s hands, a psychologist’s insights, and the capacity to instantly respond to the unexpected. As front-line health care professionals, we may find ourselves serving as ER physicians. When a previously undiagnosed life- threatening condition shows up, we must recognize the problem and triage the patient appropriately. This article will review the six most common undiagnosed life-threatening conditions encountered by chiropractors.
Keywords: cancer, abdominal aortic aneurysm, deep-vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, venous thromboembolism, stroke, cerebrovascular accident, subdural hematoma, myocardial infarction, red flag assessment, life- threatening conditions, chiropractor, chiropractic physician
Daniel, et al., have identified the six most common life-threatening conditions that a chiropractic physician is likely to encounter in clinical practice.  The goal of this article is to translate the current evidence-based knowledge of these conditions into a quick-scan diagnostic and management reference for cancer, abdominal aortic aneurysm, venous thromboembolism, stroke, myocardial infarction, and subdural hematoma.
Routine screening tests for the early detection of cancer save lives, but these tests are not without risk when applied indiscriminately. The potential for harm associated with routine screening includes:
a) false positives leading to unnecessary invasive testing,
b) stress and anxiety over test results,
c) financial issues, and
d) utilization costs [e.g., occupying an imaging device when someone else needs it more].
Although early detection may be desirable, it does not always mean that the patient will have a better clinical outcome. The following recommendations were adopted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and reflect best practices based on current knowledge. The guidelines can be viewed online, downloaded in a PDF format, or accessed through a mobile device using the Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) application. For a complete review of these guidelines, visit
Figure 1 – Most Common Fatal Cancers
Adult Male Population
Adult Female Population