Chiropractic care for older adults: effects on balance, dizziness, and chronic pain

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Jul-Aug 2009;32(6):431-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2009.06.009.


Objective: This study is part of an avenue of research exploring the effect of chiropractic care on balance in older adults. The purpose of this study was to (1) assess the use of the 7-item version of the Berg Balance Scale, (2) explore possible effects of an 8-week course of chiropractic care on balance as measured by the 7-item Short-Form Berg Balance Scale (SF-BBS) in adults 65 years or older with impaired balance, and (3) collect preliminary information on the possible relationships of dizziness and/or chronic pain to poor balance.

Methods: This was a single-group, pretest/posttest design intervention study. Patients 65 years and older who could stand on one leg for less than 5 seconds were eligible. They received pragmatic chiropractic care for 16 visits for an 8-week period. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, visit 8 and visit 16 in terms of balance SF-BBS, dizziness (Dizziness Handicap Inventory [DHI]), chronic pain (Pain Disability Index), and depression (Geriatric Depression Scale).

Results: Sixteen patients were enrolled; 14 completed the study. There was one mild and transient adverse effect, muscle soreness, which self-resolved. One patient was depressed, and his Geriatric Depression Scale score improved significantly during the study. Of the 6 patients with significant dizziness at baseline, 3 had scores of 0 (no dizziness) on the DHI at visit 16. Patients with dizziness tended to have greater chronic pain and show greater reductions in that pain than nondizzy patients. No clinically important effects on balance as measured by the SF-BBS were apparent for the group as a whole, although 3 individual patients improved by 4 to 6 points.

Conclusion: The Short-Form Berg Balance Scale (SF-BBS) did not show a great deal of clinical responsiveness in this study population. The outcome measures used for chronic pain (Pain Disability Index) and dizziness (DHI) appear to be appropriate for assessing patients in future larger studies for longer periods.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chiropractic / methods*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Dizziness / complications
  • Dizziness / diagnosis
  • Dizziness / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / methods*
  • Mass Screening
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Postural Balance*
  • Sensation Disorders / complications
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sensation Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome