Survey: Chiropractic Issues Across Age Groups

At My Chirocare, we see all sorts of patients: children, adults, elderly. Across all these patients, a myriad of conditions pop up: from text neck to slipped discs and headaches, we’ve seen it all.

However, certain age groups are more prone to certain musculoskeletal issues, which necessitate specific treatment plans. In this article, we present our personal observations and findings from the cases we’ve seen at the clinic and offer tips and management solutions to some of these problems.

Demographic 1: Youths aged 21 and below

The most common chiropractic issues that afflict this demographic are as follows:

Typically characterised by a throbbing ache or pain in the thighs, calves or behind the knees, growing pains are a condition unique to this demographic. Not much is known about what causes it, but theories posit that it could have to do with the nervous system or, in several cases, psychological issues. A plausible explanation has to do with spinal growth in adolescence: when growth spurts are interrupted by sports injuries and physical traumas or inhibited by sedentary lifestyles, these may alter the body’s biomechanics which triggers such pains.

While these pains cause intermittent discomfort and may even disrupt sleep, the condition is thankfully temporary and can be outgrown! One tip is to apply a warm compress and massage the affected area to soothe the pain. Chiropractors usually examine the spine and nervous system for misalignment to determine the root of the issue and may recommend more tailored options for treating the pains.

As for bad posture in youths, this condition is also attributable to increasingly sedentary lifestyles. More youths are spending long hours sitting down, which puts immense amounts of pressure on the muscles of the neck, shoulders and spinal discs. Because of this, they develop poor posture, as well as issues like text neck. Managing this condition is simple: making an effort to get up and walk every now and then and getting the spine resting against lumbar support goes a long way in improving posture.

Poor posture can look something like this, and another way to resolve it is regular core exercise to strengthen the back.

Demographic 2: Adults (21 years and up)

Many young adults complain about the following issues:

Headaches are often caused by lifestyle stress, repetitive stress movements in the neck and poor posture (which also implies that musculoskeletal problems in childhood often carry over into adulthood), all of which stem from the modern, fast-paced lifestyles with prolonged sitting that many young adults lead. One type of common headache is the cervicogenic headache: the pain starts in the neck and shoulders before travelling up to and wrapping around the skull.

Dealing with these headaches involves several simple lifestyle changes and at-home treatments. Adjusting the position of your screen to align it with your line of sight and neck stretches are some good practices. Chiropractors will usually conduct an assessment and perform chiropractic adjustments to restore function, relaxing the muscles in the back and shoulders.

Cervicogenic headaches are commonly caused by repetitive stress on the neck stemming from postural issues.

On the other hand, middle-aged and older adults tend to experience the following problems:

  • Knee pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain

Plantar fasciitis refers to heel pain caused by the inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. The tendons that hold up the arch of the foot stop working due to natural wear and tear over years of use. This flattens the foot, a process accelerated by prolonged sitting and weight-bearing activities that further wear the tendons down. This stabbing pain typically comes after long periods of standing or standing up after prolonged sitting, and the age of 40-60 is a common risk factor for this condition.

An age of 40-60 is a common risk factor: most people this age tend to work in occupations that require prolonged sitting, which is a major cause of wear and tear in the tendon. Other risk factors include flat foot, being overweight and frequent long-distance running.

Chiropractic care to treat this condition involves the customised adjustment of the ankles and heels, taking the pressure off the plantar fascia and allowing it to heal. At home, exercises that stretch and strengthen the ligament also aid in the healing process. A chiropractor will also assess your posture and gait to identify whether the foot pain is caused by other areas of the body such as the knees, hips, pelvis, and lower back. Shockwave therapy also helps reverse chronic inflammation of the plantar fascia: it breaks down the fibrous adhesions (painful scar tissues) between the tissues to allow more mobility and helps with pain management.

Stretching the heel and bottom foot area (highlighted in red) is a good way to manage plantar fasciitis.

Elderly aged 65 and up

According to a report by BMC Geriatrics, one in seven adult chiropractic patients was > 65 years. Of these, nearly 60% presented with a back problem, with neck pain (10%) and radiating leg symptoms (5%) the next most common presentation to chiropractors.

All these indicate that a large majority of problems in elderly patients are back-related: some common issues include osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. Most back problems are caused by the degeneration of cartilage in the spine associated with age, especially arthritic conditions.

BMC Geriatrics found that the top 10 problems presented in elderly patients (left columns) are as follows:

Back problems are most prevalent in this age group, with over 55% of the patients suffering from some sort of back issue. (Source: BMC Geriatrics)

Common conditions across all age groups

These include:

You may read about back pain and neck pain here.

The sciatic nerve is a nerve branch from the lower back that runs through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica occurs when a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine or spinal stenosis, an osteoarthritic condition, compresses the sciatic nerve. This triggers pain in the lumbar region, buttocks and the back of your legs. Though sciatica cannot be wholly prevented, regular exercise (especially core strengthening) and good posture can strengthen the back, reducing the likelihood of back issues that cause the condition.

The temporomandibular joint is actually the jaw joint. Patients with TMJ problems tend to excessively clench their teeth or have suffered some sort of trauma and impact to the jaw, obstructing jaw movements and causing pain in the jaw joint and muscles. Studies show that neck pain is associated with TMJ problems 70% of the time. Chiropractors often resolve this issue by assessing and adjusting the TMJ and cervical spine (if any abnormality has been detected) to restore and ease movement and relieve muscle tension.

Chiropractors with experience in diagnosing TMJ problems can perform manual adjustments to ease jaw pain and muscle tension.

If you are concerned that you may be facing any of the issues listed in this report, and would like some insight on the health concerns causing your issues, feel free to give us a call at 62084669 or drop us an email wecare@mychirocare.sg!