Chiropractic For Older Adults

I recently watched a video on Chiropractic research by my good friend Dr. Otto Janke. He reviewed some research on Chiropractic and seniors and I’d like to share the results. 

Chiropractic Lowers Overall Cost of Care

The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics published an article: “The association between use of chiropractic care and costs of care among older Medicare patients with chronic low back pain and multiple comorbidities” by William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA, Professor, Brent Leininger, DC, Assistant Professor, [...], and Christine M Goertz, PhD, DC, Vice Chancellor. 

This study found that older patients with other diseases besides low back pain who used only Chiropractic during their low back pain episodes had lower overall costs of care, shorter episodes, and lower cost of care per episode day than patients in the other treatment groups. Chiropractic care saved money and got better results than other treatments.

Chiropractic Protects Daily Living Skills in Older Adults

In “The Comparative Effect of Episodes of Chiropractic and Medical Treatment on the Health of Older Adults” by Paula A Weigel, Jason Hockenberry, Suzanne E Bentler, Fredric D Wolinsky, findings from this study suggest that chiropractic use in episodes of care for uncomplicated back conditions has protective effects against declines in activities of daily living skills and self-rated health for older Medicare beneficiaries over a 2-year period. 

In an article from SeniorMatters, chiropractic helped seniors with:

  • Pain relief
  • Increased quality of life
  • Lower risk of falls
  • Help with chronic conditions

Chiropractic care is one of the most effective and safest forms of health care to treat pain due to spinal related conditions. Chiropractic is so effective because most causes of spinal disorders are related to abnormalities of the spine and the surrounding soft tissue structures including our central nervous system. Doctors of Chiropractic are specifically trained to identify and treat subluxations (misalignments of the vertebrae) and their subsequent effect on the central nervous system. Anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers merely mask the symptoms and have many undesirable side effects.

Chiropractic Increases Range of Motion in Hands, Feet

Chiropractic care has been shown repeatedly to increase not only the range of motion of the spine but also in the extremities. Increasing a person's range of motion can positively affect lives in many ways. For some, an increased range of motion means being able to bend down to pick up their grandchildren. For others, it means they can garden without pain or get an extra 40 yards of distance out of their driver on the golf course. In many cases, an increase in range of motion immediately follows chiropractic adjustments. This is one of the reasons why many top professional sporting teams have team chiropractors.

Chiropractic Restores Balance and Coordination In Aging Population

Many problems in balance and coordination in the aging population have been shown to come from injury or degenerative changes to the cervical spine (neck region). Structures known as mechanoreceptors are located in the posterior (back) joints of the cervical spine and are responsible for providing the brain with essential information important for balance and coordination. Mechanoreceptors in cervical posterior joints provide major input regarding the position of the head in relation to the body. With aging, mild defects impair mechanoreceptors function and results in a loss of proprioception (sense of body awareness). With decreased proprioception, body positioning in space is impaired and the patient becomes reliant on vision to know the location of a limb. To compensate for the loss of proprioception (sense of body awareness) in the legs, the feet are kept wider apart than usual. Steps become irregular and uneven in length. As impairment increases, the patient becomes unable to compensate. With severe loss of proprioception, the patient is unable to get up from a chair or rise after a fall without assistance.

Studies have shown that chiropractic care can help restore balance and coordination by stimulating the joint receptors (mechanoreceptors) in the cervical spine. This stimulation is thought to restore or normalize joint receptor functioning which leads to improvements in balance and coordination. (Caranasos, MD, Isreal, MD. Gait Disorders in the Elderly. Hospital Practice. 1991; June 15:67-94.Guyton, MD. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 9th edition. WB Saunders, Philadelphia 1996; 714.)

Chiropractic Care Decreases Spinal Degeneration

A subluxated (misaligned) spine is much like a misaligned wheel on an automobile. This misalignment will cause the spine (and the wheel) to wear out prematurely. Since all moving parts will eventually wear down over time, it is very important to get your spine aligned periodically. Chiropractic care decreases spinal degeneration and other arthritic changes by normalizing the spinal alignment and reducing spinal stress.

Chiropractic Can Reduce Risk of Falls

Injuries due to falling are extremely common in the elderly population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are responsible for 90% of the 850,000 bone fractures which occur annually among Americans past the age of 65. Chiropractors reduce the risk of falls by normalizing the mechanoreceptors of the cervical spine by administering chiropractic adjustments. They also prescribe stretching and exercise programs to increase strength, flexibility, mobility, balance and coordination.

Seniors Treated by Chiropractic Report Less Arthritis, More Exercise

Ian Coulter from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College was involved with many research projects studying the benefits of chiropractic care and exercise. In 1996, he published an interesting study in the Journal, "Topics of Clinical Chiropractic" called "Chiropractic care for the Elderly." The key points he noted in this study were:

  • 44% of those who used chiropractic care reported having arthritis compared with 66% in the non-chiropractic care group
  • those who used chiropractic care were more likely to do strenuous levels of exercise at three years follow-up
  • less than 5% of those who used chiropractic care lived in a nursing home
  • a staggering 48% of those who did not use chiropractic care did live in a nursing home at three years follow-up
  • only 26% of those who used chiropractic care were hospitalized compared with 48% of those in the non-chiropractic group

The Amazing Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Let’s review a few things here. Most importantly, these studies show Chiropractic care PROTECTS activities of daily living. That is everything we do including taking care of ourselves, moving without falling, our immunity (especially now with COVID) and keeping people out of nursing homes.  Chiropractic is not just about pain, it’s about the brain and nervous system and keeping us functioning better throughout our whole life. If Doctors of Chiropractic get these results on seniors, imagine a whole life under chiropractic care helping all of us live up to our potential. That’s the amazing benefits of Chiropractic.


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