By James Schofield
I’d like to tell you about a patient of mine named Ed.
Ed originally came to me for chiropractic care when he was 65 years old due to chronic lower back pain. He’d suffered with varying degrees of back discomfort for over 10 years. When his back was particularly bad it affected his ability to walk normally.
Ed said: “I feel like I’m stumbling along. I always feel like I’m going to fall.” Since Ed’s problem had persisted for many years it took some time for his chiropractic care to help him.
But gradually his pain lessened and, as it did, he was able to stand up straighter and he began to walk normally with a proper gait. He said: “Now that my back doesn’t hurt I can stand straight and walk better. I feel much steadier on my feet.”
What Ed noticed makes complete sense: people with lower back pain are not as steady on their feet and are more likely to fall. Falls are more common in the elderly. This article will discuss back discomfort and the link to the possibility of falling, causing further injury. It will also discuss a possible solution that might lessen falls among the elderly.
A recent report in the Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, September 2017 confirmed strong evidence that older man with back pain is more likely to fall. Surveys completed by 5568 elderly men indicated that 67% experienced back pain during the year, 25% fell at least once, and 11% had recurrent falls. Further analysis showed that participants with back pain had at least a 20% increased risk for falling, with an even higher risk for those with greater back discomfort severity and frequency. This data suggests that reducing back pain among the elderly population could reduce their risk for falls.
We’ve all seen people who are suffering from an episode of strong low back pain. They are usually not able to stand upright well and are hunched forward. They also may be leaning more to the side. When this is the case they’re also not able to walk well. If they must walk in on uneven surfaces or if they stumble they are more likely to fall.
If an elderly person falls it is more likely to be traumatic than if a younger person falls. Older people are more likely to suffer fractures and dislocations after having a fall. Most of us know a senior who has had a hip fracture after falling. These types of traumas require extensive medical care, possibly surgery, and may involve an extended period of rehabilitation.
The person may even have to leave their home and be in a rehab facility for a lengthy time period.
One way to prevent falls is to reduce or eliminate lower back pain. Chiropractors are specialists that are trained to find the cause of lower back problems. Chiropractic care can then be given to reduce or eliminate pain in the lower back. The research study noted earlier suggests that reducing back pain could reduce a person’s risk for a fall. It is highly recommended that anyone with low back pain who feels unsteady on their feet should consult with a chiropractor for help. This is applicable to people of any age but especially the elderly.