Chiropractors specialize in examination, diagnosis and treatment of nerve, muscle and joint problems. The spine is most commonly associated with chiropractic treatment, however, the joints of the body also experience treatment success. Manipulation or adjustment is the primary form of treatment. The goal of the adjustment is to restore normal joint motion. Pain associated with joint dysfunction is often relieved.
Chiropractors have a variety of adjunctive techniques that can be incorporated in a treatment program, depending upon the health condition. Modalities such as laser, ultrasound, electrical current and soft tissue techniques are often utilized. Advice on therapeutic exercises, nutrition and ergonomics also play a key role in chiropractic.
Statistics show that 80 percent of Canadians will suffer from back pain in their lifetime. Repetitive activities such as keyboarding and line assembly have resulted in increasing numbers of repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Motor vehicle accidents along with recreational sports activities have contributed to sprain/strain type injuries, commonly known as whiplash. Daily activities such as housework, gardening and snow shovelling are major contributors to spine and joint injuries. Many people do not count these activities as exercise but those who engage in the above will agree that they certainly count as physical activity. Stretching before and after plus use of ergonomic tools along with good posture and correct lifting and bending techniques are essential in avoiding injury.
Chiropractic is safe and indicated for all ages. People in the senior age bracket are often unaware of how chiropractic can benefit them. The focus of the “Golden Years” should be on enjoyment. These “golden years” are all too frequently tarnished by accidents, falls, diseases and disability. Chiropractic offers a variety of gentle treatment options for seniors, respecting the fact that the adjustment or manipulation, often cannot be tolerated or is contraindicated. Treatments focus on eliminating, reducing or managing the pain while maximizing muscle and joint function.
After joints and muscles are restored to the best of their ability the next phase of treatment can begin. With pain levels under control and optimal functioning of muscles and joints the strengthening phase begins. This is a positive feedback loop as “motion is lotion.” Guided exercise builds strength and endurance and the movement decreases stiffness and helps decrease inflammation.
Ergonomics are also incorporated into the individual program as patients are taught sitting/lifting/bending and gait techniques specific to their own needs. A huge beneficial spin off to this is helping the patient reduce their chance of falling.
This becomes more important as falls, and subsequent fractures, are the leading cause of death in the older age group (6th leading cause of death and leading cause of death due to injury). 75% of those are over the age of 65.
There are several risk factors contributing to instability, which ultimately results in an increased risk of falls. Extrinsic or external factors include environmental hazards (slippery floors, poor lighting, uneven walkways, loose area rugs, poor ergonomic set up of bathroom, poor or improper fitted footwear, etc.) while intrinsic ones are health related (poor vision, gait disturbances, deterioration of mechanisms responsible for proprioception and balance, neuropathies, neurological diseases, to name a few.)
Chiropractic counselling can help eliminate extrinsic factors and help maximize overall health and functioning. The ultimate goal of both the chiropractor and senior patient is to develop a program, tailored to their needs, that will allow them to actively live life well and enjoy their “golden years.”
Maintain good posture
Wear shoes with good support
Sleep on side or back, not stomach
Invest in a good chair, pillow and mattress
Use the right tools and the right moves
Do not overload backpack or shoulder bag
Manage stress – enjoy life
Dr. Christine Garrity, B.P.H.E., D.C., is a graduate of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and a member of the Canadian Chiropractic Association and the Ontario Chiropractic Association. drcgarrity.com. 905-471-2226.