Chiropractic and Wellbeing of the Elderly Population

Introduction

Chiropractic can benefit anyone at any age, as we all have spines and nervous systems that need to be looked after. Chiropractic can provide many benefits to people in the elderly population. Therefore, it can have a positive effect on many aspects of their lives. This is especially important as we have an aging population, and need to look after these members of our community. Here are 4 ways chiropractic can help have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the elderly population.

 

Balance

As we age our balance progressively worsens. This creates an increased risk of falling. Falling has more serious consequences as we age because our bodies gradually become more fragile. Falls are a major health concern in the elderly population. They can cause injury, loss of independence and quality of life, and in serious cases even death. Falls account for over 80% of hospital admissions for injuries in people over 65. Moreover, they are the leading cause of injury related death for this population. In addition, falling has a high health care cost associated with them, which is only going to increase with our aging population.

Chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body. This helps with balance and preventing falls in multiple ways. Firstly, it increases our reaction time which makes us more likely to be able to catch ourselves if we trip. Secondly, it allows us to more accurately know where our body parts are in space, which leaves us less vulnerable to falling. And thirdly, it increases our ability to integrate our senses from external factors and respond to them faster and more appropriately.

Pain

Chiropractic is probably most well known for its ability to assist with musculoskeletal issues and pain. And this is no different in the elderly population. They may have pain for different reasons such as injury from a fall, or due to the degeneration process. By restoring the proper joint biomechanics in the spine, the spine moves better and allows the muscles in these areas to relax. As a result, this often leads to less pain. Moreover, chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body, which allows the body to heal itself better and faster if there are any injuries there causing pain. As many older adults are on multiple medications, chiropractic is a great, natural way to reduce the need for painkillers for musculoskeletal issues and pain. As a result, this may lead to reducing the overall side effects someone may experience from taking multiple medications2.

 

Mobility

Chiropractic restores normal movement of spinal joints as well as extremities. As a result, this not only improves motion for that joint but also an overall range of motion for the whole spine/extremity. Importantly, elderly people are then more likely to be able to continue with activities that they enjoy doing e.g. gardening, walking, playing with grandchildren. Moreover, when we return normal motion to these joints, we also take the stress away from them. In addition, when we decrease the stress on these joints and improve movement, we are also slowing the degenerative process3.

 

Mental Health

When you combine all of the above points, this has an amazing impact on the overall quality of life of older adults. Importantly, when they have increased mobility and decreased pain, they are more likely to be able to keep exercising and doing things they enjoy. Moreover, remain independent. Remaining independent is very important to older adults and has extremely positive effects on their mental health. In conclusion, the longer they can remain independent, the better their mental health and overall wellbeing will be. Moreover, chiropractic helps improve quality of sleep, all contributing to improved mental health and quality of life4.

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Holt, K. R., Noone, P. L., Short, K., Elley, C. R., & Haavik, H. (2011). Fall risk profile and quality of life status of older chiropractic patients. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(2), 78-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.12.01078.
  2. Vindigni, D., Zark, L., Sundberg, T., Leach, M., Adams, J., & Azari, M. F. (2019). Chiropractic treatment of older adults with neck pain with or without headache or dizziness. Analysis of 288 Australian chiropractors’ self-reported views. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-019-0288-1.
  3. Brantingham, J., Snyder, R., & Biedebach, D. (1994, March 25). Spinal manipulation may help reduce spinal degenerative joint disease and disability. The Chiropractic Resource Organisation. https://chiro.org/ChiroZine/ABSTRACTS/Degenerative_Joint_Disease_and_Disability.shtml.
  4. Ohio State Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Chiropractic care for seniors. Senior Citizens Guide. https://www.seniorcitizensguide.com/articles/southwestohio/chiropractic-care-for-seniors.htm.

 

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The Immune System and Chiropractic

What is the immune system?

 

The immune system is our natural defense against outside pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. It is constantly working to prevent us from getting sick or infected, or to help get us better as efficiently as possible if we do become infected. It can affect how often we get sick, how hard we are hit by sickness, and how long it will take to recover. When it does become infected by something, it keeps a record of this. So that it is better equipped to fight it if it ever returns again. The immune system contains many different parts. Including but not limited to: white blood cells, antibodies, skin bone marrow, spleen, lymphatic system, and the thymus. They all have their own role in preventing and fighting infection.

 

How can the immune system become weakened?

 

Some people are born with conditions that weaken their immune system. It can weaken from acquired diseases (such as HIV/AIDS), or through some types of medical treatment (such as chemotherapy)1. In addition, there are also lifestyle habits that can weaken our immune system such as prolonged stress, under or over-exercising, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor diet2.

 

How does chiropractic affect the immune system?

 

It is important to look at the lifestyle factors that may be weakening our immune system and modify these where possible. However, there are other ways we can help to strengthen our immune system. One of these ways is through chiropractic care. Chiropractic care is all about removing interference from the nervous system, which is caused by all the different stresses in our lives. When our nerve system is free of interference this allows our brain and our body to communicate more freely and accurately. If our brain and body are communicating well this allows the brain to be better. As a result, it is able to detect what is happening in the body, such as an infection, and to organize the necessary elements needed to fight this.

When the communication between the brain and the body has no interference, the brain can register what is happening faster. As a result, the body can start fighting any sickness or infection as soon as possible in order to minimize damage to the body and reduce the duration of sickness. Moreover, decreased nervous system interference also allows our brain and nervous system to better coordinate all body systems. When the immune and nervous system can coordinate their responses more efficiently this keeps our body more resilient and healthy. As a result, the more coordinated our immune and nervous systems, the more likely to beat sickness and infection fast, and with the least amount of damage to the body3.

 

Cont.

 

A great example of chiropractic helping boost immune function the impact that chiropractors had during the Spanish Flu. The Spanish Flu (1918-1920) was one of the world’s worst pandemics, with somewhere between 20-50 million people dying4. While it was a devastating time in history, something amazing happened when those affected went to see their chiropractor. In a city in Iowa, it was shown that every 1 out of 15 of those infected that went to medical doctors died. However, only 1 out of every 866 patients that went to a chiropractor died. Moreover, there were 233 cases that medical doctors had given up on, and after chiropractic care all but 25 of these cases survived. As a result, this amazing feat led to many licenses in the US5!

 

This all comes down to the fact that chiropractic clears interference from the nervous system. In addition, they allow all systems of the body to function at their best, including the immune system. Chiropractic is extremely beneficial for anyone looking to boost their immune function – it saves lives!

 

References:

 

  1. Better Health Channel. (2017). Immune system. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/immune-system.
  2. Everyday Health. (2015, June 17). 9 surprising ways you’re weakening your immune system. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/9-surprising-ways-youre-weakening-your-immune-system/.
  3. Pure Healthcare. (2017, July 5). Boost your “flu-fighter” with chiropractic care. https://www.purehealthcare.co.nz/boost-your-flu-fighter-with-chiropractic-care/.
  4. (2010, October 12). Spanish Flu. History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/1918-flu-pandemic.
  5. Upper Cervical Chiropractic of Monmouth. (2020, March 13). 10 important studies on chiropractic and resisting a virus. https://getwellnj.com/immunity/.

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File:Organs of the Immune System by AIDS.gov.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Common Myth About Chiropractic

Once you start going to a chiropractor you can’t stop

If you are seeing a chiropractor or have mentioned you are considering it to a friend you may have heard this little lie “once you start going to a chiropractor you can’t stop”.

This myth may be because many people who start going to a chiropractor do in fact continue to go even after their initial care phase. This isn’t because they have to but because they choose to. The reality is that with any health choice it takes sustained effort to maintain results. Think about it, if you have a terrible diet of lots of takeaway food and soft drinks which has caused weight gain and you clean up your diet and lose the weight, do you think you will keep the weight off if you return to your old habits? Of course, this would be foolish to think!

The same is true with spinal health and strength; if you start utilising chiropractic, postural awareness and exercise to improve your strength and pain. Then going back to your old habits will most likely get you back to the same place that you started with.

For those who want a bit of research about this topic click the link below to s study performed in 2011 that demonstrated better pain and disability outcomes with ongoing “maintenance” care (fortnightly chiropractic adjustments) compared to those who only received an initial care phase of one month.

So the truth to the myth that “once you start chiropractic you can’t stop” is that once you start chiropractic you can CHOOSE to continue reaping the benefits of a stronger, more mobile and coordinated spine or you can CHOOSE not to. As with most things in life, the outcome is down to the choices you consistently make!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21245790

Chiropractor Auckland

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File:A chiropractor treating a patient. Wellcome L0034597.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons