Chiropractic & The Aging Population

As another year begins one of the things that we all can look forward to is becoming another year older. Hopefully, as we age we will be able to continue to enjoy and maintain a level of function and independence that allows us to attain the standard of living that we hope for as we look toward our senior years. Two studies out of the United States indicate that chiropractic care of seniors can help us to attain that standard of living.

In a recent edition of a quarterly publication that we receive called “The Chiropractic Report” there was a discussion about two recently published reports in “The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics” (JMPT) that examined how chiropractic care for seniors helped to maintain a higher standard of living than other traditional methods when dealing with musculoskeletal pain and injuries.

The first study was published six months ago and dealt specifically with back pain and measured improvement through following how patients continued with their activities of daily living (ADLs) and lower body functions (LBFs). The information came from a sample size of 7,000 participants aged 70 or older in 1993 who were interviewed then and every two years since. As well as data collected from Medicare claims

The research indicated that 30% of individuals with medical care only declined in ADLs, meaning that they lost functioning ability, while only 19% with chiropractic care showed any decline. 38% of individuals with medical care only reported declines in lower body function while only 30% of individuals with chiropractic care reported declines. With regard to lifestyle factors 40% of the chiropractic care group reported being involved in vigorous exercise while only 27% of individuals in the medical care group exercised vigorously.

In the second paper a different source for the research was used called the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey which is linked to claims made between 1997 and 2006. In this study the research indicated that spending on spine related conditions for chiropractic treatment did not increase over this period of time but that spending on these types of conditions in general had roughly doubled. This is important because it has been implied in the past that spending on chiropractic by Medicare had been progressively increasing. That being said, chiropractic treatment of back pain can be a very economically efficient tool for health care systems and in many studies it has been shown to be an effective cost saving method when people have access.

Contrary to what some may think, chiropractic treatment for seniors is very appropriate and can be very effective. Often people are concerned that due to conditions that are prevalent in the aging population that chiropractic treatment may be at best ineffective and perhaps at worst potentially dangerous. Chiropractic treatment is appropriate for all age levels starting from the very young and all the way through to the very old. As chiropractors we are trained to take a thorough history, complete an extensive physical examination, perform x-rays when clinically indicated and when appropriate to refer to other health practitioners. Techniques are modified and adapted to be appropriate for every patient and especially for the very young and the very old or those with special circumstances.

As we all advance through life it is important to take advantage of every health care tool available to help us to continue to enjoy a high standard of living and function. Chiropractic can be a very effective, safe and enjoyable part of the aging process.