Skip to main content

The Top 100 Most-Cited Publications in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation: A Bibliometric Analysis



Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading contributor to global healthcare expenditure and with an increase in ageing global population, this number is projected to rise further.


To determine the top 100 most-cited studies in field of musculoskeletal rehabilitation and to conduct their bibliometric analysis.


Scopus was used for identification of studies, published in the field of musculoskeletal rehabilitation over last five decades.


Literature search was conducted in February 2021 with final Boolean search phrases being: [(musculoskeletal) and (rehabilitation) and (musculoskeletal rehabilitation)]. In addition to number of citations, data was also collected for other variables such as title of study, topic of discussion, subdivisions of clinical and applied science involved in conduction of study, study design, journal and its impact factor, year of publication, and country where study was conducted.


The top 100 most-cited articles in musculoskeletal rehabilitation over the last 50 years were published between 1973 and 2015. Total number of citations was 24,366, with an average of 243.66 citations per paper. Highest citation was reported by a paper on treatment of low back pain by Waddell G. The decade of 2000–2009 contributed maximum articles with highest number of publications from journal “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation”. Most of the publications were from United States and most common topic to feature among these articles was “Strength training”.


This study identifies the top 100 most-cited articles in musculoskeletal rehabilitation and provides insight into its historical trends while serving as a guide for future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4



Bone mineral density


Physical medicine and rehabilitation


  1. Cieza, A., Causey, K., Kamenov, K., Hanson, S. W., Chatterji, S., & Vos, T. (2021). Global estimates of the need for rehabilitation based on the Global Burden of Disease study 2019: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Lancet, 396(10267), 2006–2017.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Musculoskeletal conditions., Accessed 2 Apr 2021.

  3. Garfield, E. (1972). Citation analysis as a tool in journal evaluation. Science, 178(4060), 471–479.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Merigó, J. M., & Núñez, A. (2016). Influential journals in health research: A bibliometric study. Global Health, 12(1), 46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Adams, A. B., & Simonson, D. (2004). Publication, citations, and impact factors of leading investigators in critical care medicine. Respiratory Care, 49(3), 276–281.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Cheek, J., Garnham, B., & Quan, J. (2006). What’s in a number? Issues in providing evidence of impact and quality of research(ers). Qualitative Health Research, 16(3), 423–435.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ellegaard, O., & Wallin, J. A. (2015). The bibliometric analysis of scholarly production: How great is the impact? Scientometrics, 105(3), 1809–1831.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Burnham, J. F. (2006). Scopus database: A review. Biomedical Digital Libraries, 8(3), 1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Garfield, E. (1987). 100 citation classics from the Journal of the American Medical Association. JAMA, 257(1), 52–59.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Xu, G., Meng, X., Guan, J., Xing, Y., Feng, Z., & Hai, Y. (2021). Systematic review of intervertebral disc repair: A bibliometric analysis of the 100 most-cited articles. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, 16(1), 207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Waddell, G. (1987). Volvo award in clinical sciences. A new clinical model for the treatment of low-back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 12(7), 632–644.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Hartvigsen, J., Hancock, M. J., Kongsted, A., Louw, Q., Ferreira, M. L., Genevay, S., Hoy, D., Karppinen, J., Pransky, G., Sieper, J., Smeets, R. J., Underwood, M., Lancet Low Back Pain Series Working Group. (2018). What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention. Lancet, 391(10137), 2356–2367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Leimu, R., & Koricheva, J. (2005). What determines the citation frequency of ecological papers? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20(1), 28–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Wong, B. B., & Kokko, H. (2005). Is science as global as we think? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20(9), 475–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Ioannidis, J. P. (2005). Contradicted and initially stronger effects in highly cited clinical research. JAMA, 294(2), 218–228.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Moore, M. L., Pollock, J. R., McQuivey, K. S., & Bingham, J. S. (2021). The top 50 most-cited shoulder arthroscopy studies. Arthroscopy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, 3(1), e277–e287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Niehaus, W. N., Silver, J. K., & Katz, M. S. (2018). The PM&R journal implements a social media strategy to disseminate research and track alternative metrics in physical medicine and rehabilitation. PM&R, 10(5), 538–543.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Oxman, A. D., & Guyatt, G. H. (1988). Guidelines for reading literature reviews. CMAJ, 138(8), 697–703.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. Oxman, A. D. (1994). Checklists for review articles. BMJ, 309(6955), 648–651.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. Cook, D. J., Mulrow, C. D., & Haynes, R. B. (1997). Systematic reviews: Synthesis of best evidence for clinical decisions. Annals of Internal Medicine, 126(5), 376–380.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Shojania, K. G., & Bero, L. A. (2001). Taking advantage of the explosion of systematic reviews: an efficient MEDLINE search strategy. Effective Clinical Practice, 4(4), 157–162.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Spieth, P. M., Kubasch, A. S., Penzlin, A. I., Illigens, B. M., Barlinn, K., & Siepmann, T. (2016). Randomized controlled trials - a matter of design. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 10(12), 1341–1349.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Ioannidis, J. P. (2006). Concentration of the most-cited papers in the scientific literature: Analysis of journal ecosystems. PLoS ONE, 1(1), e5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Callaham, M., Wears, R. L., & Weber, E. (2002). Journal prestige, publication bias, and other characteristics associated with citation of published studies in peer-reviewed journals. JAMA, 287(21), 2847–2850.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Furlan, J. C., & Fehlings, M. G. (2006). A Web-based systematic review on traumatic spinal cord injury comparing the “citation classics” with the consumers’ perspectives. Journal of Neurotrauma, 23(2), 156–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Malhotra, K., Saeed, O., Goyal, N., Katsanos, A. H., & Tsivgoulis, G. (2018). Top-100 highest-cited original articles in ischemic stroke: A bibliometric analysis. World Neurosurgery, 111, e649–e660.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Campbell, F. M. (1990). National bias: A comparison of citation practices by health professionals. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 78(4), 376–382.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  28. Baltussen, A., & Kindler, C. H. (2004). Citation classics in critical care medicine. Intensive Care Medicine, 30(5), 902–910.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Rahman, M., & Fukui, T. (2003). Biomedical research productivity: Factors across the countries. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, 19(1), 249–252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., & Stone, M. H. (2016). The importance of muscular strength in athletic performance. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N. Z.), 46(10), 1419–1449.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kitsuda Y., Wada T., Noma H., Osaki M., & Hagino H. (2021). Impact of high-load resistance training on bone mineral density in osteoporosis and osteopenia: a meta-analysis. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism 39(5), 787–803.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Furtado, G. E., Letieri, R. V., Silva-Caldo, A., Trombeta, J. C. S., Monteiro, C., Rodrigues, R. N., Vieira-Pedrosa, A., Barros, M. P., Cavaglieri, C. R., Hogervorst, E., Teixeira, A. M., & Ferreira, J. P. (2021). Combined chair-based exercises improve functional fitness, mental well-being, salivary steroid balance, and anti-microbial activity in pre-frail older women. Frontiers in Psychology, 25(12), 564490.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Blumen, H. M., Cavallari, P., Mourey, F., & Yiou, E. (2020). Editorial: Adaptive gait and postural control: From physiological to pathological mechanisms, towards prevention and rehabilitation. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 25(12), 45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. LeBrasseur, N. K. (2019). Gait as an integrative measure and predictor of health across species. The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 74(9), 1411–1412.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Wu, S., Duan, N., Wisdom, J. P., Kravitz, R. L., Owen, R. R., Sullivan, J. G., Wu, A. W., Di Capua, P., & Hoagwood, K. E. (2015). Integrating science and engineering to implement evidence-based practices in health care settings. Administration and Policy In Mental Health, 42(5), 588–592.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Neha Singh.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standard Statement

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.

Informed Consent

For this type of study, informed consent is not required.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Singh, N. The Top 100 Most-Cited Publications in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation: A Bibliometric Analysis. JOIO 56, 1327–1338 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Citations
  • Citation density
  • 100 most-cited
  • Musculoskeletal rehabilitation
  • Impact factor