Stephan Giuffrida, DC
Caring for an Aging Spine
As our bodies get older, it is important to stay healthy and active in order to prolong our youthful vitality. Over time, as bones and muscles weaken, our spines require some additional care and maintenance in order for us to be out and about doing the things we love.
Many seniors face chronic pain related to their aging bodies. This can lead to a significant disability, forcing a person to remain home bound or live in an assisted living facility. It’s no wonder studies have shown a higher rate of depression among seniors who are disabled and living in chronic pain.
Thankfully, chiropractic care has been shown to have numerous benefits among our senior population, ranging from less pain, more energy, increased mobility, and a decreased risk of injury and falls.
Here are some of the common spinal conditions I commonly encounter and treat in my practice among older patients:
Arthritis is the accumulation of wear and tear on the joints and one of the most common spine problems we see in our older patients. There are a total of 25 levels of the spine from top to bottom. Between each two vertebrae, there are three joints. Years of damage to all levels of the spine can produce significant pain and dysfunction in multiple areas.
The gel-like discs between each set of spinal vertebrae lose water content as we get older, making them likely to flatten and possibly herniate over time. This outward protrusion can place pressure on spinal nerves causing pain. We have seen significant improvements in our patients through non-surgical spinal decompression performed here in our office, combined with traditional chiropractic care. Our results are evidenced through MRI imaging and most importantly a reduction or elimination of pain.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that often results from arthritis or injuries. The degeneration of the spine places pressure on the highly sensitive nerves of the spinal cord and can be very painful.
This problem occurs when a single vertabra slips out of place, causing the entire spinal column to become unstable, increasing the chances of a back injury. Since ligaments and other connective tissue lose strength and elasticity in older adults over time, spondylolisthesis becomes more common in older age categories.
Bone density typically decreases in senior citizens, with many developing the bone-weakening condition osteoporosis. This condition leads to a heightened risk of fractures and breaks.
How chiropractic care can help!
As with any treatment we provide, we seek to treat the cause of the pain (not merely the symptoms) while doing our best to prevent reoccurrence or future problems.
We begin by discussing a patient’s history and performing a detailed physical examination. We review X-Ray and MRI images and also physically palpate the areas of pain and discomfort.
Treatments usually begin by preconditioning the area with laser, infra-red, electric stimulation, hot packs or ultrasound. This allows for a better manual adjustment to correct mechanical and structural dysfunction.
While I still rely on manual adjustments in most patients, recent technology such as our new spinal decompression table allow me to reach areas that my hands cannot. While patients may experience dramatic symptomatic relief after just one session, I have found that patients typically experience long-term improvements within 20 decompression treatments. Recent studies suggest that continued improvement can be seen up to four years after the decompression treatment protocol is concluded.
Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and a review of careful lifting limits are also discussed in depth during our appointments.
It is important to note that there is no “one size fits all” formula when it comes to chiropractic treatment, however, in many cases we are able to stave off surgery and most importantly vastly improve a patient’s quality of life.
After treatments, some seniors may find that they are able to play with their grandchildren or bend over and tend to their garden. Our goal is to keep you doing what you love as long as possible!
For more information on Eastchester's Spine and Joint Group, visit www.spineandjointgroup.com or call 914-779-5800.