An estimated 14% of patients treated by chiropractors are 65 and older. This number is expected to rise in the coming years; it is estimated that in the U.S., nearly 20% of the population will be 65 or older by the year 2030.
Among older adults, chiropractic care is one of the most frequently utilized forms of alternative or complementary treatments. The majority of older adults seek chiropractic care for neck or back pain, and treatment approaches for these conditions vary significantly. Few studies have evaluated the role of chiropractic care in treating older adults.
In a recent study, researchers examined the treatment of older adults using five chiropractic interventions: spinal manipulations, acupuncture, exercise, nutritional counseling, and fall prevention. They found that chiropractic doctors can play an important role in managing the wide variety of health conditions faced by older adults. Musculoskeletal disorders and other health conditions can be treated with the wide variety of treatment modalities available to chiropractors.
Although chiropractic care is often associated with only the management of musculoskeletal disorders, the researchers pointed out that doctors of chiropractic “often utilize multiple treatment modalities that address the patient as a whole, not only his or her musculoskeletal symptoms.” This holistic view is a crucial component of treating older adults since many have complex medical histories and comorbid conditions.
As the number of older patients seeking chiropractic care increases, it is imperative that chiropractors discuss the patient’s current needs as well as preventive strategies such as physical activity, nutritional counseling, and fall prevention. With an aging population, there will be a greater need for chiropractors to meet the needs of older patients.
Earlier studies have also discussed the benefits and safety of chiropractic care for older adults.
Dougherty P, Hawk C, Weiner DK, Gleberzon B, Andrew K, Killinger L. The role of chiropractic care in older adults. Chiropractic and Manual Therapies 2012; 20:3 doi:10.1186/2045-709X-20-3.