In the US alone nearly 20% of the population will be 65 or over by 2030. Chiropractic is one of the most frequently utilized care by older adults in America.
The most common reason an older adult might seek treatment from a chiropractor is for musculoskeletal symptoms. Chiropractors also provide a wide range of treatments, which include relief from arthritic pain, headaches, digestive problems, and insomnia.
Older adult patients are often encouraged to engage in exercise. In fact, weight bearing physical activity is essential for preventing weakening of the bones later in life. When bone mass has deteriorated, and the bones become weak and prone to fracture, osteoporosis occurs. Bones become thicker and stronger over time to resist forces placed upon them. If there are no forces to act against bones become thinner and weaker. This is why exercise is so important in leading an active life.
As we age, spinal discs, facet joints, ligaments, muscles and other spinal tissues become weaker, less hydrated, more fibrotic, and less able to withstand normal stresses. As a result, spinal pain from spinal degeneration, commonly referred to as arthritis, becomes more prominent, tissue injury from relatively benign events occurs, and the time to heal from injuries increases.
Arthritis is not a single disease, but a way of referring to joint pain or disease. Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion; they can be mild, moderate or severe. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. It’s important to note that arthritis is not a kiss of death, that nothing can be done, and that it is unavoidable. It is an effect of imbalance and overuse and, if when corrected, can certainly be stopped and sometimes reversed if caught soon enough.
Chiropractic procedures take into consideration the nature of the aging spine and abnormalities to provide effective, safe, and noninvasive treatment. Through the use of gentle mobilization techniques, physical therapies, stretching and exercise a chiropractor can reduce spinal pain, lessen spinal stresses, improve flexibility and mobility minimize degeneration.
Chiropractic care for the elderly is also important in maintaining balance and coordination to help minimize the risk of falls. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and deaths due to injury. However, ensuring that the spine and nervous system is functioning correctly can reduce these falls.
As the population continues to age there will be a greater demand for the chiropractic profession to meet the needs of the older adult, which is why I advise patients to maintain both mental and physical wellbeing from an early age.