Back Pain and the elderly – Chiropractic can help!

Back pain is a common condition among older adults and as our population ages, its only likely to become a more common issue. Chiropractic care has been shown to be one of the most effective methods for dealing with back pain in general, but the results with older patients are particularly good. Chiropractors, unlike some other professionals, get results because they understand the unique workings of the aging spine and know how to keep it in top form. Chiropractic care is focused on prevention -and on addressing the underlying causes of pain and discomfort, rather than masking symptoms with drugs.


A Serious problem

Back pain is always an annoyance, but for older people it can also have more serious consequences. Directly, because spinal stability and strength is a key element in avoiding trips and falls, and indirectly because of the associated conditions, such as impaired flexibility which can affect an older individual ‘s overall health and ability to live independently.

ln fact, a study in the journal Spine states that chronic back pain “is a growing source of morbidity among the elderly.” [1] Spinal problems are strongly correlated with trips and falls, but also with pain and discomfort which can make everyday living much harder than it needs to be.

In addition, compared with younger individuals, older individuals need to be extra cautious about taking pain medications of the sort which are often used to treat back pain.  An older person ‘s body is often not as well equipped to handle medication. For example, changes in the kidneys and liver related to the aging process make it more difficult for the body to break down and eliminate drugs. Chiropractic on the other hand, offers a drug free approach which addresses the underlying cause of the issue.


Chiropractic Care For the Aging Spine

Like the rest of our bodies, the spine changes during the aging process . It becomes less adept at withstanding the daily stresses and strains and more vulnerable to injury. Older people are increasingly recognising the need to take care of themselves, and the its alternative approaches which are leading the field.  When researchers surveyed 2,055 individuals age 65 or older, they found that 20 percent had visited an alternative care practitioner during the previous year – and most of these visits were to doctors of chiropractic[2].

In another analysis, 61.9 percent of older citizens using complementary and alternative medicine sought chiropractic care at some point. Results showed that the “most prevalent motivations for seeking chiropractic care were pain relief (54.8%), improved quality of life (45.2%) and maintenance of health and fitness (40.5%).”[3] It certainly seems to be the case that the value of chiropractic care is clear to those who try it!

The sad fact is that many older people believe that back pain and limitations on activity and lifestyle are just a part of aging – the reality is that with proper care and maintenance, this just doesn’t have to be true!



Lifestyle, Exercise and The Aging Spine

At complete chiropractic, we aim to provide an all round service which takes into account every aspect if your life and health. Good spinal health (and good health generally) go hand in hand with keeping fit and active – that’s why we advise our older clients to complement their chiropractic care with appropriate exercise.

It’s not just our approach either – one extensive study of the chiropractic profession analysed the effect of this lifestyle aspect of chiropractic care on older populations. The report sought to determine whether there were differences between patients who had long-term exposure to these preventive services vs. those who had not. The researchers looked at chiropractic patients (age 65 years  and over) who had received some level of chiropractic care, of at least 4 vests per year.[4] The average number of chiropractic visits was 9 per year.

The results showed that when dealing with older people, chiropractors recommended stretching exercises  (68.2  percent) and aerobic exercises (55.6 percent) ; gave dietary advice (45.3 percent); and advised on a host of other prevention strategies, including supplementation and relaxation practices.

By contrast, the patients investigated in this study reported making only half the annual number of visits to traditional medical providers (4.76 visits per year) where, for the most part, no complementary health advice was given. [5]

Its an important consideration, because especially for older people, its important to get good advice regarding health an exercise – and advice which is targeted at your specific issue. That’s why our approach is always on a client by client basis.

Typically we’ll recommend a range of stretching and light resistance training, which has been repeatedly shown to be effective in reducing back pain (especially lower back pain) but which has the additional benefit of improving core strength and stability. Our approach in this regard is strongly supported by more recent work from Spine which has shown the that the kind of targeted exercise we promote has a direct impact in reducing back pain.[6]


We can help

If you are struggling with back pain, neck pain, or even hip and joint pain then why not give us a call today? At complete chiropractic, our accessible clinic has a range of opening times to suit you, and an approach to personal, long term health which just might be the key to aging gracefully!


[1] Spine 2006;3 l :£203-7

[2] J Amer Ger Soc 2000;48: 1560-5

[3] J Gerontologi­ cal Nursing 2003;29:20-8

[4] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2000;23: l 0-9

[5] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2000;23:10-9

[6] ( Spine 2007;32:76-81

Blog by / November 24, 2017 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007