The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging (AoA) reports that the number of people who are 65 years old or older will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030.
This will increase their population from just over 12 percent to 19 percent, or just over 72 million in the year 2030, which means that you’re likely to see more individuals in this age range at your chiropractic office due not only to their growth in the U.S. in general, but also because this generation tends to experience some common geriatric issues.1
Common geriatric issues
One study published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies points to a report that found that 23 percent of older adults experience non-disabling back pain and an additional six percent suffer from disabling back pain, taking the total percentage of elderly individuals struggling with some level of back-related pain to 29 percent, or almost one-third of the population.2 Fortunately, chiropractic can provide positive results for geriatric patients with this particular type of pain by helping correct spinal misalignments and alleviating nerve impingements.
Chiropractic can also help seniors with neck pain, according to research published in The Spine Journal. In one particular study, 241 people 65 years of age or older with neck pain for 12 weeks or more were divided into three different groups: those who received spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic) and home exercise, persons engaged in supervised rehabilitative exercise and home exercise, and those who did home exercise only. Results showed that the group who engaged in chiropractic and home exercise reported the greatest neck pain relief.3
Another physical issue common to elderly individuals is arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that one-half of all people are susceptible to osteoarthritis in the knee by the age of 85. Furthermore, one-quarter of all people will likely develop arthritis in their hip region.4 One study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine involved a 70-year-old female patient who struggled with hip osteoarthritis for over a year. She engaged in just 12 weeks of chiropractic and the result was “increased range of motion, improved balance and gait speed, and decreased disability.” Although these were very promising results, individuals in this age range require special considerations when it comes to which chiropractic table to use.5
Chiropractic table considerations for geriatric patients
When treating geriatric patients with issues such as back or neck pain, or even arthritis, special considerations should be made in regards to the chiropractic table to make the experience more comfortable and pleasurable for them. For instance, choosing a table that can be lifted and lowered electronically can make it easier for your patient to lie down and change positions.
Additionally, using a chiropractic table with various drop sections is beneficial, as it allows you to obtain proper spinal manipulation with less force. This makes chiropractic more comfortable for elderly patients both during and after the treatment session.
It is also advantageous to older individuals to offer nutritional counseling and exercise recommendations to help improve their range of motion, decrease their pain, and improve their balance. As their chiropractor, you are in the perfect position to help them live with maximum health and wellness by providing education and treatment in various wellness areas.
1 Administration for Community Living. “Aging statistics.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.aoa.acl.gov/Aging_Statistics/index.aspx. Accessed April 2015.
2 Andrew K, et al. The role of chiropractic care in older adults. Chiropr Man Therap. 2012:20(3).
3 Bracha Y, et al. Spinal manipulative therapy and exercise for seniors with chronic neck pain. Spine J. 2014:14(9);1879–1889.
4 National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. “Arthritis-related statistics.” Centers for Disease control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis_related_stats.htm. Updated March 2014. Accessed April 2015.
5 Hanses M, Strunk R. Chiropractic care of a 70-year-old female patient with hip osteoarthritis. J Chiropr Med. 2011:10(1);54–59.