Pain in the Elderly

Pain is a predictor of poor health status especially in the elderly. Commonly associated with low levels of physical activity and performance.


Those developing pain when older are 4x (400%) more likely to suffer from Anxiety and Depression, as well as social isolation, loss of independence, decreased appetite, poor sleep, Brain decline, sleep disturbance and poor concentration.


Back Pain which is CHRONIC (long term or greater than 6 months) occurs more in older adults than in any other age group.


Unfortunately Back Pain and Neck pain in seniors is associated with many more developments of diseases. Such as Bone and joint disorders, Migraines, Cardiovascular diseases (which is currently the number 1 killer in elderley), Lung problems and Gastric ulcers found by Hartvigsen in 2006 study.

Cardio-respiratory health and fitness (CRF — how fit you lungs and heart are), is a predictor of early death as well as the quality of life in seniors.  CRF decline srapidly after the age of 45.

Hence, maintaining a healthy weight and activity levels – (Public Health England recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and 2 sessions of strength and balance training per week), not smoking all lead to a greater CRF and qualify of life span.


BMI is a poor health value than having a DXA or Ultrasound body fat scan. As a morbidly obese person can have the same BMI as a bodybuilder or strongman/woman. This does not mean the athlete is unhealthy. Thus, having a proper health check is important if you really want to determine the levels of fat and muscle mass in your body. If you re having a DXA scan whilst your at it you can also check out your Bone Mineral density to see if you are at risk or have got Osteoporosis (something which GP’s are told to encourage everyone over the age of 65 if they meet requirements).


Back Pain

An active lifestyle has been proven as a protective factor against incidents of low back pain. Hartvigsen and Christensen created a population based study in 2007, which followed 1387 danish 🇩🇰 twins 👯‍♂️, over 2 whole years, aged between 70-100.

They managed to show that strenuous activity (like heavy gardening, long walks (>1 hour), bike rides (>1hour), sports dancing ALL protect 🛡 your lower back against PAIN. Social exercises also help maintain good levels of brain plasticity (as nothing lights up the brain more than chatting to a new person) – independence and reducing likelihood of other diseases.

N.B. 150 minutes of aerobic activity and 2 sessions of Strength and Balance training IMMEDIATELY REDUCES the RISK of MANY CHRONIC DISEASES and extends longevity.


Persistent Pain

Those at higher risk of developing persistence of pain include:

-Job dissatisfaction

-Widespread pain already – Leg, Arm

-reduced range of movement

-history of lower back pain


-lack of physical activity


-poor self rating of own health

-psychological trauma and distress


most people with Back pain will fear that they will do damage. What’s important to know is that around 90% of BACK PAIN is mechanical and non-specific …..meaning…. there is

nothing ruptured,

nothing dislocated


Back is usually fine – however tiny little micro-problems have snow-balled and coupled with stress, inactivity and a lot mentioned above the person with all of these begins to suffer pain.

So… they begin to avoid things, avoid social activities, local events, gatherings, shopping, hobbies, until it becomes a vicious cycle. Only ending up making the pain much much worse.

All this above started by only a “THOUGHT” that they were going to do damage to their backs. But this is very unlikely as we know 90% of back pain is not related to those sorts of problems.

However its more important – that when your in doubt – GET it checked out.


It can be easy to pamper our elderley, however another perspective is that this may be doing them a dis-service. As this then becomes Learned Helplessness. Where they feel not to do something themselves. We need and want to empower the elderley in the community,

In a study in elderley care homes, the residents were split into 2 groups. One group caring for a plant 🌱 and another without. The group that cared for the 🌱 and had this responsibility and tasks became less likely to and suffered fewer falls and injuries.


Said again, when in doubt, get yourselves checked out.

From the Preston Chiropractor Team
Getting You Back in Action & Enjoying Your Life Again
Serving the people of Preston and surrounding areas including Southport and Lytham St Annes

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