Chiropractic Treatments for the Elderly

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Lower-Back-Pain-199x300.jpgAn estimated 5% of seniors in America make use of some form of chiropractic treatment every year.  Those taking care of elderly loved ones may want to examine the benefits of this alternative form of medical help.

What is chiropractic used for?

Chiropractic is most often associated with musculoskeletal issues, such as lower back pain.  While many adherents have reported great success, some in the medical community believe that the basis of chiropractic is “pseudoscience” and that there is insufficient evidence-based research to prove its efficacy.  This debate is likely to continue; perhaps the best advice is to weigh the evidence for yourself and determine whether this might be an appropriate care option for your elderly loved one.

Spinal manipulation

The most popular form of chiropractic care is spinal manipulation.  Because back pain is a common issue among older adults, with one report estimating that between 6% and 23% of seniors suffer from the issue, many older patients undergo this treatment.  There are many variations in spinal manipulation, but most forms involved the chiropractor using his or her hands to massage, manipulate, stimulate, or readjust spinal tissues.  Often this involves moving portions of the spine past their typical range of motion but not so far as to cause dislocation.

Other forms of chiropractic care

Chiropractors do not necessarily limit themselves to spinal manipulation.  Many chiropractors also recommend acupuncture, in which professionals apply needles to specific pressure points in order to lessen tension and pain, to treat lower back pain issues. As with spinal manipulation, there is a wide variation in how acupuncture can be applied to a patient. Chiropractors may also recommend specific physical exercise routines to decrease the likelihood of falls.

Nutritional counseling is also common in chiropractic care.  Since many seniors do not receive all the nutrients that they require for optimal health, a chiropractor may recommend changes in a patient’s diet to raise the levels of certain nutrients.

While most medical professionals today tend to agree that chiropractic methods can be effective for some people for lower back pain issues, there is less agreement on their effectiveness in other areas.  This is especially true when it comes to treatment for whiplash, neck pain, and headaches.  Once again, if you are taking care of an elderly person with these issues, you should weigh your options and see what might work for your loved one.  Some people report very favorable results from chiropractic care for far more than just lower back pain issues.

Taking good care of elderly patients can be challenging; the more you know about alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, the more you will be able to make informed, positive choices for your loved ones.


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