Chiropractic treatment of low back pain (LBP) has been reported to be very safe and highly effective. In fact, in 1994, guidelines were published recommending that chiropractic treatment of low back pain should be a first consideration / treatment of choice in front of many other forms of back care health services. Since that time, more and more studies have been published showing continued advantages of chiropractic care over many other forms of LBP care.
Even though studies have shown that the peak prevalence of LBP occurs in the 5th decade of life, LBP is also a significant public health problem in older adults ranging between 13% and 49% with “…soaring costs in terms of health care expenditures.” So, what about care for the elderly – is chiropractic care equally safe and effective in this older population as it is in younger patients?
A recent study reported two types of spinal manipulation or adjustments verses minimal conservative medical care (MCMC) in patients with subacute or chronic, non-radiating LBP over 55 years of age. This included a total of 240 participants, of which 105 were women and 135 were men with an average age of 63 years. The two types of manipulation included a high velocity low amplitude type (the classic “cracking” type of manipulation) and a low velocity variable amplitude type (stretch – not associated with a “crack”) treated 12 times over a 6 week time frame. A 3rd treatment group (MCMC) served as a “control” to compare against the two manipulation approaches. All three groups received a half hour exercise session at week 3 and outcomes were studied at 3, 6, 12 & 24 weeks. The results showed equally effective benefits to the two styles of manipulation over the MCMC group, with no serious adverse events associated with any of the treatment groups.
This study is important in a number of ways. First, it points out that two distinctive styles of manipulation frequently utilized in chiropractic and likely to be encountered by patients obtaining chiropractic care, are equally effective in a population exceeding 55 years of age. The type of manipulation ultimately decided upon can therefore be based on: 1) patient preference (as some patients just don’t like being “cracked”) and 2) the chiropractor’s clinical experience.
When visiting our clinic, we take pride in providing accurate, up-to-date information about our patient’s condition and what must be done to obtain long term, satisfying results. We are most appreciative to have the opportunity to provide care to our patients and strive to make the experience highly satisfying.