Back Pain: One study published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies points to a report that found that 23 percent of older adults experience non-disabling back pain and an additional six percent suffer from disabling back pain, taking the total percentage of elderly individuals struggling with some level of back-related pain to 29 percent, or almost one-third of the population. Fortunately, chiropractic can provide positive results for geriatric patients with this particular type of pain by helping correct spinal misalignments and alleviating nerve impingements.

Neck Pain: Chiropractic can also help seniors with neck pain, according to research published in The Spine Journal. In one particular study, 241 people 65 years of age or older with neck pain for 12 weeks or more were divided into three different groups: those who received spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic) and home exercise, persons engaged in supervised rehabilitative exercise and home exercise, and those who did home exercise only. Results showed that the group who engaged in chiropractic and home exercise reported the greatest neck pain relief.

Arthritis: Another physical issue common to elderly individuals is arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that one-half of all people are susceptible to osteoarthritis in the knee by the age of 85. Furthermore, one-quarter of all people will likely develop arthritis in their hip region. One study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine involved a 70-year-old female patient who struggled with hip osteoarthritis for over a year. She engaged in just 12 weeks of chiropractic and the result was “increased range of motion, improved balance and gait speed, and decreased disability.” Although these were very promising results, individuals in this age range require special considerations when it comes to which chiropractic table to use.


When treating geriatric patients with issues such as back or neck pain, or even arthritis, special considerations are made in regards to treatment to make the experience more comfortable and pleasurable. For instance, the same force used to adjust a younger spine is not the same force applied to someone with a history of herniated discs and severe arthritis. It is also important to note that the office integrates additional therapies with each visit besides the adjustment. In this way, we can assure that the patient’s needs are met even if one therapy does not help.


A recent study published in Topics in Clinical Chiropractic1 of randomized clinical trial data found chiropractic geriatric patients “less likely to have been hospitalized, less likely to have used a nursing home, more likely to report a better health status, more likely to exercise vigorously, and more likely to be mobile in the community.” While this information is open to interpretation, it does begin to address the wellness benefits that DCs have long asserted their care offers to patients, especially elderly ones.

As the authors of the study concluded, “Although the number of chiropractic patients is low (n=23), and caution must be exercised in interpreting the data, the preliminary results are of considerable interest to chiropractic providers …”

While the geriatric population studied comprised 414 patients, of which only 5.65 percent were chiropractic patients, there were some very marked differences in health-related behaviors and characteristics between geriatric patients who received chiropractic care, and those who did not. The study discovered that chiropractic geriatric patients get more exercise and do more strenuous exercise, tend to be more mobil, and use more community services. Geriatric patients under chiropractic care were more likely to report their own health as being good to excellent, reported less arthritis, depression, and hospitalization, as well as fewer chronic conditions.

Health Related Behaviors
(as reported by the seniors) 
Chiropractic  No Chiropractic
Regular Exercise 73.9% 61.6%
Strenuous Exercise 57.1% 31.2%
Current Smoker 13.0% 7.4%
Any Alcohol Consumption 43.5% 41.9%
Mobil More than 5 Days/Week 73.9% 52.7%


Health Related Characteristics
(as reported by the seniors)
Chiropractic No Chiropractic
Good to Excellent Health 87.0% 67.8%
More than 2 Chronic Conditions 47.8% 62.9%
Arthritis 43.5% 65.7%
Falls in Past Month 47.8% 41.3%
Pain in Past Month 72.7% 69.0%
Depression 13.0% 19.4%
Visit Physician in Past Month 60.9% 61.4%
Use Community Services in Past 3 Months 69.6% 46.8%
Nursing Home Use in Past 3 Years 4.3% 19.2%
Hospitalization in Past 3 Months 4.4% 2.1%
Hospitalization in Past 3 Years 26.1% 47.6%