Neck Pain-Chiropractic and the Older Adult

People of all ages suffer from neck pain and many frequently turn to chiropractors for care. It has been projected that by 2030, nearly one in five residents in the United States will be 65 or older. Currently, about 14% of patients treated by chiropractors and 65 or older, making it one of the most utilized forms of complementary and alternative chare by older adults. What kind of care can a senior citizen expect when seeking treatment from a chiropractor?

Musculoskeletal pain—pain in the neck, back, arms and/or legs drives the majority of elderly patients to chiropractors. While low back and neck pain are the most common complaints, it’s not unusual for patient to also have one or two other conditions that they did not know that chiropractic care could help. Common chiropractic treatment approaches include spinal manipulation and/or mobilization, nutritional counseling, physical activity/exercises and (especially important in the elderly population) fall prevention.

Common reasons patients present with neck issues includes: limited movement, stiffness and pain. Neck pain can interfere with sleep as well as other activities of daily living. These activities such as lifting and playing with grandchildren can cause new complaints or irritate and existing one. Neck pain is often associated with headaches, which can also make daily activities more difficult.

When an elderly patient visits a chiropractor for the first time, he or she can expect to fill out some initial paperwork, as well as provide history of the main complaint and any lesser complaints they are experiencing. The examination usually includes general observations and palpating or feeling for muscles tightness/tenderness, and misalignments of the spine. Range of motion, orthopedic tests, neurological tests and x-rays are also common components of a typical chiropractic examination. Treatment of the neck may include massage or mobilization to loosen muscle tension, manipulation to free up restricted joint motion and even exercise instruction. The goal of treatment is to improve neck motion, activity tolerance and quality of life (less pain, improved sleep etc.). So whether you are 10, 20, 50, 70 or 90 years old, give chiropractic a chance to help manage your neck pain.

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