Chiropractic Neck Adjustment May Prevent Falls For The Elderly

Elderly members of the population face a host of dangers when it comes to falls. Each year in the US alone, one in three elderly people fall, with 10%-20% suffering some sort of injury, including bone fractures. The long range results of these falls are often more troubling as they become injuries with a wider scope of influence, like increased morbidity, disability, and loss of independence. The economic costs of these falls have been estimated to be from anywhere from $2,000 to $42,000, with a total sum of $23.2 billion per year.

Sudden dizziness is a primary cause of debilitating tumbles, while to a lesser extent, falls from spinal pain. A recent study takes a look at how chiropractic manipulation of the neck may reduce sudden dizziness in the elderly.

A major risk for falls in the elderly was linked to a relationship between neck pain and non-specific dizziness, which arises as a result of dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system surrounding the neck. The hypothesis is that by treating neck pain, sudden dizziness can be mitigated, and thus lower the risks of falls for elderly patients, and it has been tested by looking closely at clinical research data. 

A common complaint of elderly patients who seek chiropractic care is unsteadiness, which usually results in the chiropractor performing some form of spinal manipulation. But because inner ear troubles and cardiovascular disease are commonly held by mainstream medical practitioners to be a significant contribution towards dizziness, neck pain is often overlooked as a source of vertigo. Yet, as is well-known to chiropractors, the inner ear and visual inputs linked to balance have key inputs from the central nervous system that pass through the neck and upper cervical spine. In fact, many recent studies have demonstrated this connection between a healthy neck and a sense of postural balance. 

Another recent study has correlated greater degrees of dizziness in patients who experience pain in the upper regions of the neck in comparison to lower back pain. The amount of evidence suggests that treating neck pain in the elderly could have a positive effective in restoring a sense of balance to patients who regularly experience unsteadiness or dizziness. However, the effectiveness of chiropractic neck manipulation for the treatment of dizziness in the elderly has yet to be tested. Future studies focused on neck pain, non-specific dizziness, and frequency of falls by the elderly in the local population, hold great promise.

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