A study published on December 18, 2019, in the journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies looked at the outcomes of chiropractic care for elderly patients who were suffering with neck pain. The study was performed in Australia involving 288 Doctors of Chiropractic who contributed reports on elderly patients suffering with neck pain.
The study authors begin by reporting that “Neck pain, with or without headache or dizziness, is a leading cause of disability affecting over 350 million people worldwide as of 2015.” They note that neck pain is particularly prevalent in older adults and has a significant impact on their quality of life. Treating neck pain with medications is common but can lead to a variety of other health issues caused by the medications.
Although not as common as in the United State, chiropractic is popular in Australia. The study states, “Many older adults in Australia suffering from neck pain and associated conditions seek chiropractic treatment. In fact, musculoskeletal complaints, most commonly back and neck pain, account for the vast majority of chiropractic consultations in Australia.”
This study was performed by randomly selecting 800 chiropractors in Australia to participate. These chiropractors were emailed a request with a link to the survey. From the original 800 initially sent a request, 288 responded and participated. All identifying information was kept confidential. Of the 288 chiropractors in this study, 207 were male and 81 were female.
The survey itself gathered data on the reported chiropractic care of older adults with neck pain with or without headaches. The survey consisted of 28 questions and gathered information on chiropractors’ demographic and practice characteristics, estimates of how often the chiropractors care for older adults with neck pain, the methods used on the elderly patients, the chiropractor’s estimate of the effectiveness of the care, and estimates of patients usage of other health services by their older patients.
The survey of the Australian chiropractors showed that 28.5% of their patients were elderly. In that population, nearly half of those patients had presented for chiropractic care with neck pain. About a third of the patients with neck pain also suffered from headaches.
Overall, the reported health-related outcomes for neck pain and associated health issues was reported to be favorable for older adults. The number of visits that were needed before the patients considered their issues to be resolved varied but was higher with those patients who also suffered from migraine headaches. It was also noted that the number of visits patients required prior to getting relief from neck pain did not vary between female and male chiropractors.
In their conclusions the authors wrote, “The findings suggest that chiropractors use well-established manual and physical therapy techniques to manage neck pain in older adults. The favourable (sp) outcomes reported by participants highlight a potential role for using nonpharmacological multimodal therapeutic approaches for the management of neck pain in older adults.”