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Chiropractic FAQ Sheet: Seniors and Aging

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By: Martha Michael


Most Americans strive for a long and healthy life, and for seniors, this goal includes the desire to maintain their mobility, flexibility, and balance. You might even call lack of pain a foundation for a high quality of life during one’s golden years.

Chiropractic care plays a big role in helping older adults achieve this quality of life. Regular adjustments from your chiropractor can help assist seniors who wish to lead active, fulfilling lives through preventive health care. Doing so may slow the onset of age-related conditions and help provide treatment for accidents and injuries.

While most industrialized nations consider 65 to 70 the threshold for “senior” status, says an article by Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, there’s no single definition for the phases of the life cycle. For example, a zoomer may define “middle age” as younger than a boomer. Being considered a senior typically aligns with retirement.

Being a “senior” refers to your trips around the sun, but whether you’re simply older or “elderly” has more to do with your physical condition. Life involves a growing acceptance of the natural state of aging—and it sure beats the alternative—but most of us aren’t eager to accelerate to the venerable position of elderly. Maintaining your health has a direct effect on youthfulness.

Let’s look at what chiropractic can do to help keep you feeling and moving like you did in your youth.

Is chiropractic care safe for seniors?

About 15 percent of chiropractic patients are aged 65 and older, with most seeking treatment for musculoskeletal issues. The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of enabling older adults to maintain independent function, a goal that regular chiropractic care helps to support.

An article in Science Direct talks about the best practices in chiropractic care for seniors. Often a first-contact provider, a chiropractor is able to assess the individual and manage health complaints, providing treatment options and referrals when necessary. Studies show Medicare patients who live in areas with a greater number of chiropractors visit their primary care less often.

For elderly individuals who often have a wide range of health challenges, a chiropractor can serve as a member of their healthcare team, working alongside other medical providers and systems like Veterans Affairs. The benefits of adding chiropractic care to your healthcare regimen is the resulting emphasis on the importance of overall health and wellness, including advice on diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. While chiropractic is not a replacement for traditional medical care for seniors, it can be an effective complement to help manage pain and improve musculoskeletal function.

The safest, most effective chiropractic care includes customized treatment for each patient. For instance, a course of treatment for populations such as infants and children looks different than chiropractic techniques applied to athletes. And both treatments look different for seniors and the elderly.

Chiropractic care is generally considered safe for seniors when performed by a qualified and experienced chiropractor. It's important for seniors to disclose to their chiropractor any pre-existing health conditions or medications. This will ensure their safety and helps to inform any advice their chiropractor may provide. Chiropractors can tailor their techniques to be gentler for older patients, ensuring a comfortable and effective treatment experience.

How can chiropractic adjustments benefit seniors?

While some features of chiropractic treatment resemble those used in physical therapy, a chiropractor’s expertise is focused on spinal health and the impact of nervous system function on overall wellness. An article by the National Library of Medicine outlines the link text for pain management and improved mobility. Citing the journal., it says there are a wide range of modalities used by chiropractors to treat seniors seeking healthcare services, including:

  • Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT)
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercise
  • Fall prevention

Most seniors seek chiropractic care for musculoskeletal pain, typically in their back and/or neck. SMT is effective in managing spinal and peripheral joint pain and dysfunction experienced by patients.

“It is important to recognize that SMT used by doctors of chiropractic in practice may incorporate multiple techniques,” the article says. “These techniques may include varying levels of biomechanical force, ranging from high-velocity, low-amplitude to low-velocity, low-amplitude. SMT may also include instrument-assisted manipulation, use of specialized tables, use of padded wedges, and many low-force techniques.”

Chiropractors may use SMT to address symptoms of comorbidities, including:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • COPD
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary incontinence

Clearly, chiropractic care is a credible player in the healthcare routine of those who are moving past middle age.

How can chiropractic care help seniors manage chronic conditions?

Seniors often turn to chiropractors for a treatment plan following an auto collision or slip-and-fall accident, but routine chiropractic care is also ideal for treating symptoms of ongoing conditions such as osteoarthritis, sciatica, and spinal disc herniation. Proper alignment helps maximize function in your body’s organs and boosts your body’s systems, according to the Arthritis Foundation’s website. Experts in the relationship between structure and function, chiropractors offer a holistic approach to providing pain relief and increasing function, such as full range of motion.

Can a chiropractor treat arthritis?

An arthritic joint is an example of painful symptoms caused by a structural problem in the joint. A chiropractor can use an appropriate degree of force to align the joints in the treatment area and provide relief from chronic pain. Gentle manipulation of the soft tissue can relieve throbbing and restore function for the patient.

How is sciatica treated by a chiropractor?

Nearly 40 percent of Americans suffer from sciatic pain, according to an article in Healthline. In mild cases, people can reduce their symptoms by slowing down and minimizing movement. Caused by a pinched sciatic nerve, sciatica can cause pain in your lower back, hips, and down one or both legs. It can feel like an electric jolt or a throbbing ache, typically just on one side of the body, and it can be mild or severe.

A chiropractic consultation to address a patient’s sciatica may include such suggestions as:

There is no shortage of information that can be gleaned from a visit to your doctor at The Joint Chiropractic.

Spinal disc herniation

A herniated disc can cause symptoms similar to sciatica. Conveniently, chiropractic treatment addresses those symptoms without the aid of pharmaceuticals. When the pads between your vertebrae get worn down or damaged and shift, the movement can affect nearby nerves.

Spinal disk herniation is a somewhat common condition, particularly among older populations, and chiropractors have effective means to treat the symptoms. By sharing with your chiropractor the level and location of painful symptoms, they can use a combination of modalities to reduce the pain and increase your mobility.

Chiropractic care doesn’t involve the use of medications, whereas opioids might be the go-to when seeing a general practitioner. Of course, there are potential pitfalls to the use of such drugs, including addiction or overdose. It’s another reason to keep chiropractic top of mind when dealing with acute or chronic pain.

There's no reason to doubt your ability to stay active, play sports, and travel during retirement. By incorporating chiropractic care into your routine, you can maintain a healthy body and enjoy your senior years to the fullest, free from the burden of health issues.

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