At Complete Chiropractic, we focus very much on our credentials as a family clinic – were here for everyone from the youngest to the oldest. It’s no secret though that as we age, back, neck and shoulder pain – those maladies which chiropractors are most famous for treating – become more of an issue. So if you’re over 65, perhaps it’s time for a visit!
An ageing population
It’s certainly not going to be news to you that the population of developed countries is gradually increasing in age. Two take a couple of examples, It is predicted that in both Australia and Canada, 22% of the population will be aged over 65 years by 2042 and globally there will be a threefold increase in persons aged over 80 years by 2050.
We also know, that the prevalence of common musculoskeletal conditions, and the resulting disability, increases with age – wat’s more, common conditions such as low back pain when found in older adults are more likely to be moderate to severe, and is more likely to be incapacitating, when compared to younger adults. Therefore, there’s plenty of reason to be concerned about how we can best treat, and prevent these conditions, especially in older age groups.
Chiropractic is very popular with the over 65’s
While we know that there is high use of chiropractic care by older adults – until a recently published study we did not have any solid data on why older adults seek chiropractic care and how chiropractors manage these conditions. Today, however, were able to report some interesting (if not unsurprising) results.
The recent study consisted of secondary data analysis from two, large cross-sectional observational studies conducted in Australia (COAST) and Canada (O-COAST). Patient encounter and diagnoses were classified using the International Classification of Primary Care, 2nd edition (ICPC-2), using the Australian ICPC-2 PLUS general practice terminology and the ICPC-2 PLUS Chiro terminology – a bit technical, but important to mention here as the terminology and definitions used for this kind of study does matter.
Based on this information, descriptive statistics were used to summarize chiropractor, patient and encounter characteristics. Encounter and patient characteristics were compared between younger (< 65 years old) and older (≥65 years old) adults to allow us to understand how the different groups interact with chiropractic services.
The results? – A total of 6,781 chiropractor-adult patient encounters were recorded. Of these, 1,067 encounters were for persons aged > 65 years (16%), from 897 unique older patients. The most common diagnosis within older adult encounters was a back problem (56%), followed by neck problems (10%). In terms of techniques, soft tissue approaches were most frequently used for older patients (85 in every 100 encounters) and in 29 of every 100 encounters, chiropractors recommended exercise to older patients as a part of their treatment. – If you’re a patient at complete chiropractic, this probably sounds familiar!
Taken as a whole, this means that from 6,781 chiropractor-adult patient encounters across two countries, one in seven adult chiropractic patients were > 65 years. Of these, nearly 60% presented with a back problem, with neck pain and lower limb problems the next most common presentation to chiropractors.
Are you over 65?
If you’re over 65, it might be time to consider a chiropractic check-up – especially if you’re experiencing back pain or a similar musculoskeletal issue. While this kind of study does not give us specific information about success rates of treatment (and that’s a limitation) we can now say that in many countries chiropractic is often a tool of choice for those over 65 – and perhaps it should be for you too!
 United Nations . Department of Economic and Social Affairs PD, ed. 2017. World Population Ageing 2017 – Highlights
AIHW, Australias demographic challenges. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Canberra; 2004
 Go C. Action for seniors report. 2014
 Tamcan O, Mannion AF, Eisenring C, Horisberger B, Elfering A, Muller U. The course of chronic and recurrent low back pain in the general population. Pain. 2010;150(3):451457
 Katie de Luca, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Martha Funabashi, Silvano Mior & Simon D. French, The Profile of Older Adults Seeking Chiropractic Care: A Secondary Analysis. BMC Geriatrics 2021 (Apr 23); 21 (1): 271