For years, older adults have relied on chiropractors to ease their aches and pains, but little is known about the everyday use of chiropractic by seniors, and whether chiropractic can be of benefit in routine care for the elderly. New research shows that chiropractic isn’t just helpful for back pain in older adults, it may even protect them from increased limitations in their daily activities.
A study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics analyzed data from a US national survey conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called the survey on Assets and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD).
Within the AHEAD survey, 1,057 Medicare recipients with back pain were identified for inclusion in the study. The study included a statistical analysis of patient surveys conducted in 1995 and 2006. Patients were asked about their overall health, ability to complete activities of daily living (ADL), and lower body function (LBF). ADLs included things like walking up the stairs or going grocery shopping. Researchers analyzed medical records to see who had received either medical care or chiropractic care for episodes of back pain during the 11-year period.
After adjusting for baseline characteristics, the researchers found that chiropractic patients were significantly less likely to have declines in ADLs and LBF than medical-care only patients. This meant that chiropractic patients were also less likely to have significant declines in self-reported health. Chiropractic care appeared to have a protective effect against increased disability with age.
“These results suggest that when chiropractic care is delivered in practice at care levels comparable to those used in clinical trials and relative to the types of services delivered within an episode of medical care only, chiropractic confers significant and substantial benefits to older adult functional ability and self-rated health,” the researchers concluded.
The study adds to earlier research showing that chiropractic is safe for seniors with back and neck pain, and provide substantial relief for spinal conditions, disc herniation, and arthritis. Aging causes the spinal discs to collapse and dehydrate, making you more prone to back injuries like bulging discs or pinched nerves. Like seeing a dentist twice a year helps you prevent gum disease and tooth decay, seeing a chiropractor for regular checkups can ensure that your spine is in good shape to prevent these kind of injuries and strains.
Weigal, et al. The comparative effect of episodes of chiropractic and medical treatment on the health of older adults. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2014; pii: S0161-4754(14)00032-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.12.009.