Several senior patients in our Sunnyvale & San Francisco office come to us due to neck pain, and Dr. Stern is often able to help with the healing process. However, neck issues is all too common in the elderly, as reported in an article printed in Geriatrics, with causes ranging from arthritis to some type of trauma and even infections or tumors. Fortunately, research has uncovered that chiropractic treatment is extremely helpful for this particular age group to overcome neck issues issues especially when paired with a home exercise program.
One such study was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration and published in The Spine Journal. In this study, 240 participants aged 65 or older were included as they reported neck pain levels of a 3 or greater for a period of at least three months. Each person was then placed into one of three groups: spinal manipulative therapy plus home exercise, supervised rehabilitative exercise plus home exercise, or home exercise only.
Data was obtained at the start of the study, as well as at predetermined intervals of 4 weeks, 12 weeks, 26 weeks, and 52 weeks. Information taken included pain levels, disability status, overall health, satisfaction with treatment, overall improvement and any changes in medication intake.
Twelve weeks into the treatment, the cohorts who engaged in spinal manipulative therapy and doing home exercises reported 10% reduced discomfort than the patients in the group that were doing home exercises exclusively. They also did better than the group involved with supervised rehabilitative exercise plus home exercise, citing 5% less pain than that group overall.
This is great news for seniors who were administered chiropractic as it offers better results. But, let's not forget the importance of home exercise. So, what kinds of exercises are helpful for seniors suffering from neck problems?
The American Senior Fitness Association states that one of the best ways to decrease your neck issues is to focus on improving your neck alignment through better posture. This includes:
There are also some exercises you can do as well that can help strengthen your neck muscles and decrease your potential pain. The first one involves sitting in a chair and placing your left hand on your waist while putting your right hand on your cheek. Calmly and lightly try to push your right ear toward your right shoulder, using your hand to resist the movement. Count to three as you do this and then relax and repeat on the other side.
A second exercise that is beneficial is based on the same type of resistance, except this time you are going to place your hands behind your head and pull your chin back. Use your clasped hands to create a gentle resistance, again holding for a count of three before relaxing and repeating a few more times.
If you are excited in learning more ways to help reduce neck issues as you age, please contact our office and make an appointment with Dr. Stern. We'll do our best to help you feel better no matter what your age.
Maiers, M et al. (2014, September 1). Spinal manipulative therapy and exercise for seniors with chronic neck pain. Spine, 14(9), 1879-1889, doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.10.035 Moskovich, R. (1988). Neck pain in the elderly: common causes and management. Geriatrics,43(4), 65-70, 77, 81-2 passim. Wilson, MA. Sit down and exercise! Mature Fitness