Over the years, chiropractors have gotten a bad rap – or should we say crack? Few health care providers are so polarizing. Non-believers call them quacks. But the faithful swear by these doctors and the services they provide.
With many insurance companies now covering chiropractic services, the procedure is becoming more mainstream — and generally accepted by the public. Maybe it’s time to take another look. More and more seniors are doing just that.
What is chiropractic?
This is a health care field devoted to the musculoskeletal and nervous system – and how those areas affect the rest of the body. Back pain and neck pain are two of the most common problems treated by chiropractors, with a chiropractic adjustment – or spinal manipulation – the hallmark of what they do. This is a hands-on treatment where the doctor applies sudden pressure or thrust to the area of the body affected. There may be a bit of brief discomfort, but the procedure isn’t considered painful.
Are chiropractors real doctors?
Chiropractors have a 4-year college degree with a pre-med major, plus an additional four to five years of chiropractic training at a chiropractic college. Most programs also require at least one year working with patients in a clinical setting (similar to an M.D.’s internship or residency).
Why see a chiropractor?
There are a lot of reasons to try – and like – chiropractic treatment. One major one is that successful treatment may help seniors avoid surgery. It can also reduce the need for medication. While every patient – and every pain – is different, many seniors have had great success in treating their pain with a visit to the chiropractor. Here are a few of the proven benefits of chiropractic.
Pain relief. Common sense, right? Pain is, of course, the most common reason most people visit their primary care physician. It’s also the most logical reason to see a chiropractor. Many times, this happens after several other treatment options have been tried with no success.
A lot of back pain is caused by a problem with your spinal alignment and the surrounding support system of tendons and muscles. Chiropractors are trained to recognize the problem and how it might affect not only your joints and tissues, but also your nervous system. Pain can subsequently be caused by any of those things – and the right manipulation and adjustment can relive that pain tremendously.
Balance improvement. And you thought the key to balance was doing yoga — or walking with a book balanced on your head! Not necessarily. Many seniors experience pain and posture problems due to injury or arthritis. That leads to your compensating to relieve the pain – and making everything off-balance. Chiropractors can help your alignment, your pain – and as a result, your balance.
Better range of motion. Manipulation of the spine can relieve the pressure on muscles, tendons, joints and nerves. That results in less pain — and better mobility.
Less risk of falling. Falls are one of the top causes of injury among seniors. And those injuries – especially broken hips – can lead to chronic pain, restricted mobility and even death. A visit to your chiropractor can result in relief through a spinal alignment — along with stretching or strengthening exercises. All of these strengthen your core and help balance. And better balance reduces the risk of falls.
Helps join degeneration. Many seniors experience the aches and pains of arthritis. In many cases it’s due to heredity or overuse from a job or hobby. But one other cause is a misaligned spine, which makes joints wear down prematurely. Realignment can’t “cure” existing conditions, but it can help reduce future issues.
Improved overall health and wellbeing. Living with pain is, well, a real pain. Chiropractic is not for everyone or for every situation, but it has been shown to provide real improvement for many common sources of pain — for people of all ages and all walks of life. And when that happens, your whole health and outlook can change along with it. Imagine sleeping through the night pain-free. Or doing activities that you previously had to give up — golfing, gardening, gourmet cooking.
So what can you expect?
Ask your doctor for the names of reputable chiropractors in your area. Check with your insurance company to see what practices are covered by your plan. Ask friends if they have a chiropractor that they know and like.
Once you get to your appointment, the doctor will spend some time discussing your pain or problem. Where do you hurt? What type of pain is it? What is the level of pain? Have you tried any other treatment?
He or she might take some x-rays to see what’s going on with you structurally. If you already have a recent x-ray or MRI from your physician, be sure to bring it along.
Your chiropractor may adjust your spine or joints. If he or she sends you home with some exercises to do – do them! They’re “prescribed” to complement the in-office treatment and hasten the results.
You may feel some aches later in the day as a result of the adjustment. The realignment can call new muscles and tendons into action and that may hurt a little at first.
Depending on the problem, one session may be enough. Other times, you may need a series of adjustments to relieve your pain. It all depends on the type of problem you’re experiencing along with how long you’ve had the pain.
If you’re a senior living along the sunny gulf coast of Florida, there are a lot of chiropractors to choose from. But one other way to improve your overall health and wellbeing is to make Discovery Village Senior Living Community your home. This can’t relieve your physical pain, but it can definitely give you a peace of mind. And the Discovery Village health and wellness team can help direct you to onsite activities that may be good for your mind and body – as well as help you decide if chiropractic is right for you. Enjoy.
Discovery Village At Westchase offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 813.536.4723.