Chronic pain in Gen Z

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According to a survey conducted by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a nonprofit educational organization that informs the public about the benefits of chiropractic care, many young adults — specifically those in Generation Z — experienced chronic pain in their necks, shoulders, and backs before the age of 16. Surveyed members of Generation Z, which includes people born between 1996 and 2010, reported that in some cases, chronic pain began under the age of 10, and in most cases was largely connected to sleep posture, sports, and the weight distribution of heavy bookbags, as well as posture while using technology. Nearly half of the surveyed young adults indicated a preference for drug-free pain management, including chiropractic care, possibly complemented by other, more conventional types of medical treatment.

More than half of the 200 young adults surveyed expressed curiosity about and interest in chiropractic care and cited effectiveness as the most important factor in choosing a treatment plan for their chronic pain, prioritizing effectiveness over both cost and convenience. Representatives from the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress noted that chronic pain in Generation Z is not a widely studied topic and were encouraged by the survey’s results, citing a lessened interest in pharmacological pain management as a beneficial characteristic within this generation. Survey respondents ranged in age from 18 to 24 and were nearly evenly split between genders.

Many parents or doctors may attribute early-onset pain in the neck, shoulders, and back to growth spurts. While growing pains may be at least partly responsible for discomfort in childhood, it is important to assess the situation to determine whether physical activity has damaged the ligaments, tendons, or joints. Chiropractic examinations and treatments can prevent early damage from developing into chronic pain later in life. Consultation with a doctor of chiropractic can determine the possible causes of childhood pain and develop a treatment plan to address the pain and protect the area from further injury. In many cases, with younger patients, chiropractic methods can treat musculoskeletal ailments and provide relief from pain while also helping patients establish habits that will allow them to participate in athletic activities more safely.

While most of the pain reported by Generation Z survey respondents was classified as medium-level pain, many people surveyed indicated that their pain was chronic and either staying the same or worsening. A small percentage of respondents had received chiropractic care and found it effective, while a larger percentage indicated interest in chiropractic care and other drug-free treatments. Generation Z survey respondents widely believe that chiropractic care should be covered by health insurance, and they also believe that other non-pharmaceutical modalities, like physical therapy, massage, reiki, and reflexology should be paid for by health insurance. Despite the fact that chronic pain is most commonly associated with older adults, the results of this survey indicate that healthcare providers should address possible sources of chronic pain in younger adults as well. With effective, drug-free treatment, these younger adults can establish healthy habits that will allow them to move into adulthood and enjoy their lives with less pain and more optimal health and well-being.

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