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As a nation, America is getting older. According to an article in Harvard Magazine, 3,000 people turn 65 every day, and the number of senior citizens is growing at more than twice the rate of the general population. But just because we're getting older, that doesn't mean that we have to feel older.
Chiropractic care is not only safe for the vast majority of seniors; it is also a completely appropriate medical treatment for the kinds of health problems that an aging population faces. Many changes may take place as we get older—our muscles, spinal discs, facet joints and ligaments become less hydrated, weaker, and less able to withstand normal stresses. For many older people, these changes can result in pain as well as reduced strength and range of motion.
In addition to suffering from chronic pain, senior often become more susceptible to injuries as their bones become more brittle and their balance and coordination begin to deteriorate. At least one in four elderly people per year experiences a fall, which can aggravate existing spinal injuries or create new ones. So what can chiropractic offer the elderly?
First, it can provide a safe, non-surgical approach to spinal care, free of both invasive procedures and potentially dangerous medications. Doctors of Chiropractic use proven, gentle techniques of adjustment, manipulation and stretching to realign displaced joints and muscles. This in turn reduces pain and helps restore flexibility and ease of movement.
One recent study compared two types of chiropractic manipulation in 240 men and women over the age of 55: high-velocity low amplitude manipulations versus low-velocity variable amplitude manipulations. The researchers found that the chiropractic techniques produced superior results in relieving chronic lower back pain when compared to traditional conservative medical care. Not only was chiropractic care found to be more effective in relieving lower back pain, the researchers also concluded that the two approaches (the first producing the “cracking” sound often heard during chiropractic manipulations, the second not) were equally useful. Even better, no adverse effects were recorded.
This study is important because it points out that chiropractic care can be tailored to some extent to the age and preferences of the individual patient. While some patients prefer the “cracking” approach and others prefer a more gentle technique, they’re both effective when skillfully applied. This is very good news! Every individual’s situation is unique, and it’s good to know that chiropractors and their patients (including seniors) have many choices when it comes to treatment.
Also, it’s important to remember that chiropractic care isn’t limited to spinal adjustments. Modern chiropractic focuses on improving the patient’s overall state of health and well-being in addition to addressing specific problems. Most chiropractors today can offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle choices that is tailored to the specific needs of their patients, whether young or old.
Safe, effective chiropractic care can clearly play a key role in restoring or maintaining spinal function. It can also help promote general health, mobility, endurance and vitality at any age. If you have questions about whether chiropractic care is right for you or someone close to you, please call or visit our office.