Do you feel your health problems are deemed to be less important when you are older? Sometimes it is too easy to believe that your problems are something that you must accept because you are ‘getting on’. In later life, it is often the case that the body does begin to ache, moving becomes slower and many patients visiting our clinic do have arthritic conditions or old injuries that cause discomfort. However, our gentle chiropractic approach is often helpful in keeping our older patients active so that they can continue doing the things they like most such as playing with the grandchildren, dancing and other activities in later life. Regular chiropractic care can make such a difference!
Dr. 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 while a staggering 48% of those who did not use chiropractic care did live in a nursing home;
- after three years follow-up, only 26% of those who used chiropractic care were hospitalized compared with 48% of those in the non-chiropractic group.
Increased Balance and Coordination
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 ageing, 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 coordination1.
At Hiltingbury Chiropractic we are committed to helping everyone optimise their own health potential. Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your problems and help you achieve your individual goals.
1 – 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