Many seniors are unaware of the outstanding benefits that are possible through regular chiropractic care. I have compiled a list of seven of the most frequent benefits that chiropractic care provides for seniors.
1. Pain Relief
Chiropractic care is one of the most effective and safest forms of health care to treat pain due to spinal related conditions. Chiropractic is so effective because most causes of spinal disorders are related to abnormalities of the spine and the surrounding soft tissue structures. Doctors of Chiropractic are specifically trained to identify and treat subluxations (misalignments of the vertebrae) and their subsequent effect on the central nervous system. Anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers merely mask the symptoms and have many undesirable side effects.
2. Increased Range of Motion of the Spine and Extremities
Chiropractic care has been shown repeatedly to increase not only the range of motion of the spine but also in the extremities. Increasing a person’s range of motion can positively affect lives in many ways. For some, an increased range of motion means being able to bend down to pick up their grandchildren. For others, it means they can garden without pain or get an extra 40 yards of distance out of their driver on the golf course. In many cases, an increase in range of motion immediately follows chiropractic adjustments. This is one of the reasons why many top professional sporting teams have team chiropractors.
3. Increased Balance and Coordination
Many problems in balance and coordination in the aging population have been shown to come from injury or degenerative changes to the cervical spine (neck region). Structures known as mechanoreceptors are located in the posterior (back) joints of the cervical spine and are responsible for providing the brain with essential information important for balance and coordination. Mechanoreceptors in cervical posterior joints provide major input regarding the position of the head in relation to the body. With aging, mild defects impair mechanoreceptors function and results in a loss of proprioception (sense of body awareness).
With decreased proprioception, body positioning in space is impaired and the patient becomes reliant on vision to know the location of a limb.
To compensate for the loss of proprioception (sense of body awareness) in the legs, the feet are kept wider apart than usual. Steps become irregular and uneven in length. As impairment increases, the patient becomes unable to compensate. With severe loss of proprioception, the patient is unable to get up from a chair or rise after a fall without assistance.
Studies have shown that chiropractic care can help restore balance and coordination by stimulating the joint receptors (mechanoreceptors) in the cervical spine. This stimulation is thought to restore or normalize joint receptor functioning which leads to improvements in balance and coordination. (Caranasos, MD, Isreal, MD. Gait Disorders in the Elderly. Hospital Practice. 1991; June 15:67-94.Guyton, MD. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 9th edition. WB Saunders, Philadelphia 1996; 714.)
4. Decreased Joint Degeneration
A subluxated (misaligned) spine is much like a misaligned wheel on an automobile. This misalignment will cause the spine (and the wheel) to wear out prematurely. Since all moving parts will eventually wear down over time, it is very important to get your spine aligned periodically. Chiropractic care decreases spinal degeneration and other arthritic changes by normalizing the spinal alignment and reducing spinal stress.
5. Increased Health and Well-Being
We commonly ask our patients what changes they notice once they are out of pain. Here are some regular responses we hear every day:
I feel great! I can sleep through the night!
Now I can play in the garden!
I have so much energy!
Life is worth living now!
Yes, chiropractic is far more than mere pain relief. Feeling good, staying healthy and doing the things that make us happy are what keeps us looking forward to each new day. Regular chiropractic care increase the quality of life and increase health and well being.
6. Decreased Incidence of Falling
Injuries due to falling are extremely common in the elderly population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are responsible for 90% of the 850,000 bone fractures which occur annually among Americans past the age of 65. Chiropractors reduce the risk of falls by normalizing the mechanoreceptors of the cervical spine by administering chiropractic adjustments. They also prescribe stretching and exercise programs to increase strength, flexibility, mobility, balance and coordination.
7. Keeps Seniors Out of Nursing Homes
Dr. Ian Coulter from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College was involved with many research projects studying the benefits of chiropractic care and exercise. In 1996, he published an interesting study in the Journal, “Topics of Clinical Chiropractic” called “Chiropractic care for the Elderly.”
The key points he noted in this study were:
• 44% of those who used chiropractic care reported having arthritis compared with 66% in the non-chiropractic care group
• those who used chiropractic care were more likely to do strenuous levels of exercise
• at three years follow-up, less than 5% of those who used chiropractic care lived in a nursing home while a staggering 48% of those who did not use chiropractic care did live in a nursing home
• at three years follow-up, only 26% of those who used chiropractic care were hospitalized compared with 48% of those in the non-chiropractic group.