It is estimated that about 27 million Americans visit a doctors of chiropractic each year, and millions more receive chiropractic care throughout the rest of the world. Chiropractic is the third largest primary health care field (after medicine and dentistry).
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the understanding that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body).
"Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment.
It looks to address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the body which is functioning improperly.
The conditions which doctors of chiropractic address are as varied and as vast as the nervous system itself.
We use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Chiropractors use the same time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical examination, laboratory analysis and x-ray examination as any other doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine to evaluate structure and function is what makes chiropractic different from other health care procedures. Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center of your hips. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves extend down the spine from the brain and exit through a series of openings. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion, and countless other factors can result in a displacements or derangements of the spinal column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation to spinal nerves can cause your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.
We also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery, Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients for medical care when those interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and other health care professionals now work as partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of other rehabilitation
Did you know that people lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscle (and along with it their strength) as they age? Our population is aging rapidly as a result of the huge baby boom in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by declining birth rates in the succeeding decades. Thanks to remarkable advances in medicine and science, however, that rapidly aging population is more physically fit and, in general, destined to live longer than any generation that came before.
As a rule, the importance of proper nutrition and physical exercise does not diminish as one gets older. In fact, it can be argued that staying physically fit becomes more critical the older we get. This helps ward off the effects of aging immune response, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems in our body.
With all the technology and leisure time we enjoy today, it is mildly ironic that Americans sorely lack in regular physical exercise and proper diet, and at considerable risk. Lack of physical activity combined with a poor diet is the second leading underlying cause of death in the United States.
Here are some simple tips for staying healthier as you get older:
- Avoid stress.
- Eat healthy. Eat foods high in Vitamin C (such as broccoli, bell peppers, citrus fruits, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and strawberries). This will help ward off osteoarthritis.
- Fortified dairy products and fish rich in Vitamin D help preserve your cartilage. Calcium (milk, broccoli, salmon and kale) keeps your bones strong.
- Follow proper guidelines for posture when standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time.
- Get regular physical checkups with your doctor.
- Keep your weight down, this reduces force and excessive stress on your body's musculoskeletal system.
- Protect your joints with comfortable yet firm footwear. Use wheeled carts to haul heavy items around the house.
- Do not smoke.
Ask your physician if it is all right for you to exercise, what kind of exercise is best, and whether any medications you are taking may make exercise a hazardous endeavor. In addition, do not undertake any exercises if your physician has consulted you against doing so. Immediately STOP any form of physical exercise if you experience pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or other unusual symptoms. And always remember to breathe normally when performing any exercise.
Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy! One of the reasons many people stop soon after embarking on a form of exercise is that it's too boring, unchallenging, or discomforting. An ideal length is about 30 minutes daily or several days a week.
Types of exercises may include:
- Balance training - These kinds of exercises challenge your equilibrium by performing such activities as standing on one foot, then the other, without support.
- Endurance exercising - This type involves activity that forces you to breathe harder than you are used to.
- Strength training - This helps you tone muscles and lose fat. It also helps to keep your bones strong, which helps you avoid fractures as your bones weaken with age.
- Stretching exercises - These help improve your range of motion and flexibility.
A note about posture
Older people should be ever mindful of their posture. Poor posture and its attendant strains on your spinal structures and muscle groups can significantly increase your risk of degenerative arthritis, and muscle and joint pain.
Posture that fails to keep your spine in its natural position can lead to a loss in range of motion, increased pain and discomfort, muscle aches, headaches, jaw pain (from a forward or downward slackening of the head), shoulder, knee and ankle aches and pains, and diminished lung capacity (from the downward pressures of your rib cage against your lower back and hips).