One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about chiropractic is that it is only useful for treating young or middle-aged adults. The truth is, however, that chiropractic can also provide elderly patients with safe, noninvasive relief from both chronic and acute back pain.
How common is back pain among the elderly?
Several studies have shown that the elderly report having back pain even after conventional therapies have been tried. One study in particular did a meta-analysis of other, smaller studies to improve the strength of the evidence in favor of a significant incidence of back pain among the elderly.
This is done by combining the results from a number of other studies to determine if there is any similarity in the findings. The study showed that at three months following treatment, 37 percent to 40 percent of patients still had complaints of back pain. At 12 months after treatment, 26 percent to 45 percent of patients still suffered from back pain.
From the results of this study, it would appear that, on average, 40 percent of older patients with back pain will still be suffering up to a year after conventional treatments.
This is why it is very important for chiropractic to be able to present itself as a viable alternative to conventional treatment for back pain.
Instrument-assisted chiropractic care for an elderly patient with cancer-related commodities
A case report in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine is a very good example of the research that has shown benefit for chiropractic treatment of elderly patients.
The case looks at an 83-year-old patient with acute lower back pain brought on by lifting his disabled wife into his truck. In addition, he had a history of leukemia, compression spinal fractures, and osteoporosis.
He rated his worst pain as 10 on a 10-point scale and scored 26 percent on the Revised Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire. He also presented with his head tilted to the left and the right shoulder held higher than normal.
The patient underwent instrument-assisted adjustments to the spine. After eight treatments, he was stable for the following four months, with no additional spasms or tenderness to the spine. His Revised Oswestry score went down to 6 percent and he rated his worst pain as 4 on a 10-point scale. Most importantly, he was able to resume caring for his wife.
This case report is a good example of the types of research that can be invaluable when conducting meta-analysis. Any study that shows positive outcomes from instrument-adjusted spinal treatment will add to the overall strength of the larger meta-analysis and lend more credence to the growing body of research in favor of instrument-assisted spinal treatment.
Scheele J1, Luijsterburg PA, BiermaZeinstra SM, Koes BW. Course of back complaints in older adults: A systematic literature review. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med 2012 Sep;48(3):379–86.
Roberts JA, Wolfe TM. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for a geriatric patient with low back pain and comorbidities of cancer, compression fractures, and osteoporosis. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2012 March;11;1: 16–23.