Why Do Seniors Seek Chiropractic?
A recent study published in BioMed Central Geriatrics on April 23, 2021, looked at how and why older people utilize chiropractic services. In the background of the study the authors state, "…the purpose of this study was to describe the demographic characteristics of older adults seeking chiropractic care, and to report problems diagnosed by chiropractors and the treatment provided to older adults who seek chiropractic care."
The study begins by pointing out that most older adults seek primary medical care for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Older adults are the highest consumers of health care services overall. This study specifically looked at chiropractic care for the older population.
Although there would be some debate defining the profession of chiropractic, the authors of the study describe chiropractic by saying, "Chiropractic is a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health."
The study reported on patient encounters from 94 chiropractors from both Australia and Canada who agreed to participate in the study. The chiropractors were asked to manually record patient encounters on 100 consecutive patient encounters in their facilities. The information was recorded on forms by either fill-in information or check box. Demographic information regarding date, age, sex, height, and weight were recorded, along with up to three reasons the patient came to see the chiropractor on that particular visit.
The chiropractors also provided information as to how the patient was referred for chiropractic, and the patient diagnosis as well as the types of care rendered. The average age of the chiropractor in the study was 43 years, with an average of 16 years in practice. A total of 6781 chiropractic patient encounters were recorded for this study.
The results showed that from all the patient encounters, 16% were patients over the age of 65 years. Of those seniors, 56% went to the chiropractor for back problems, while 10% went for neck problems. It should be noted that the understanding of chiropractic could vary by nation as prior studies in the United States have shown a higher percentage of patients seeking chiropractic care for neck problems than was reported in this study in Canada and Australia.
In the conclusion of the study, the authors gave a summary of the results. "From 6781 chiropractor–adult patient encounters across two countries, one in six chiropractic patients were aged ≥65 years. Among older adult patients, back pain was the most common problem diagnosed by chiropractors (accounting for 82 in every 100 encounters). Neck pain and lower limb problems were the next most common presentation to chiropractors."
Pain in Neck, Ear,
Side of Head and Headaches Helped by Chiropractic – A Case Study
A study released on March 8, 2021, in the Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic documents the case of a patient suffering from auriculotemporal neuralgia (ATN) being helped by chiropractic. ATN can cause severe pain in one side of the neck and head.
The auriculotemporal nerve is a branch of the main nerves in the side of the face, head, and TMJ joint. When this nerve becomes painful, the stabbing-like pain can be extreme and can extend over the side of the head and neck. Although this condition is not very common, it is painful, and it typically treated medically by medications or nerve injections to the affected area.
In this case, a 64-year-old man went to the chiropractor seeking help for his right-sided neck pain that traveled up around his ear and side of his head. The man described his pain as a headache that started seven days ago, was constant, and felt like brushing the side of his head with an uncomfortable brush. He reported that his right ear was painful to the touch and he was waking up with a headache each morning. Although he had been taking ibuprofen, the pain was getting severe enough to wake him up at night. He rated the pain as a 7 out of 10 with 10 being the worst.
A medical examination did not reveal any abnormal findings. X-rays of his neck were taken that showed a reversal of the cervical curve and degeneration with fusion of several of his mid to lower neck vertebrae. Based on these findings, chiropractic care was started.
Two days after the start of chiropractic care, the patient returned and reported improvement in the pain over the side of his head and scalp. At that point, the ear pain had not changed. The patient was given some home instructions which included some stretching neck exercises.
On the man’s next visit five days later, he reported only mild ear pain in the morning with no other symptoms of his original pain issues. It was also noted that his range of motion in his neck had improved, and it was much less tender when his neck was touched. One week later, the man reported a complete resolution from all his symptoms.
In the study conclusions the authors wrote, "This report presents a case in which our experience, a patient responded favorably to chiropractic intervention for the likely diagnosis of auriculotemporal neuralgia."
Tummy Time and Head
Shape Improved for Infant with Chiropractic Care
A study in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health, published on March 1, 2021, documented the case of an infant with plagiocephaly who could not tolerate tummy-time being helped with chiropractic.
The study begins by stating, "Plagiocephaly refers to a deformation of the skull, resulting in flattening of the cranial bones and asymmetry within the cranial vault." Although some serious neurological issues can occur, plagiocephaly is normally regarded as only cosmetic and should self-correct over time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been promoting having children sleep on their back in an attempt to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death (SIDs). However, this study noted that infants sleeping on their backs could give rise to flattening of the skull. Since the push to have infants sleep on their backs, there has been a 40% reduction in the incidence of SIDs, but a 600% increase in plagiocephaly.
In this case, a 4-month-old infant girl was brought by her mother to the chiropractor. It was noted that the infant girl's head showed a flattening on one side. The infant had a limited range of neck motion and had tight neck muscles. The infant was fussy during the examination process. Using chiropractic procedures and palpation, it was determined that the infant had multiple subluxations present in her spine.
Age-appropriate specific chiropractic adjustments were performed to address the subluxations that were determined to be present. The day after the first adjustment, the infant girl’s mother reported that her daughter had a better range of movement of her neck and an increase in tolerance for tummy-time. She could also prop herself up and hold her head upward, which she was unable to do before chiropractic. Additionally, the girl was now able to roll from her belly to her back. The infant’s head was also measured routinely, and it was noted that the shape of her head had visibly improved.
In the conclusion of this study, it was explained how subluxations in the neck could cause a reduction of neck motion leading to the infant keeping her head in one position which resulted in a head deformity know as plagiocephaly. "Vertebral subluxation can lead to a sequela of comorbidities, in this case restriction of cervical extension compounded by continuous supine positioning, resulting in deformational plagiocephaly. Chiropractic adjustments are safe and effective in correcting subluxation."
Hearing Loss Helped
in Child After Chiropractic
On March 15, 2021, the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published the results of a case study documenting hearing improvement in a young girl after a single chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic was started in 1895, in Davenport, Iowa. Coincidentally, the first chiropractic patient was a deaf man who regained his hearing after the first ever chiropractic adjustment. Although, at that time, little was known as to how an adjustment of the spine could help a person with hearing problems, science has shown that this is possible, and numerous similar cases have been documented.
The study notes that hearing loss in children is not uncommon. "The average annual prevalence of moderate to profound hearing loss, among 8-year-old children, from 1991 through 2010 was 1.4 per 1000, or 1 in 714 children." They continued, "Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent disabilities, affecting 1 in 1000 newborns and up to 11% of school-aged children. Unilateral hearing loss affects 3% of school children."
In this case, a 9-year-old girl was brought to the chiropractor by her mother. The girl’s primary issues were bronchitis, upper back pain, headaches, and hearing loss in her left ear. The upper back pain was sharp and had started three days before the visit to the chiropractor. The girl’s medical doctor had diagnosed her with bronchitis after the pain started. She had previously seen an ear, nose, throat, and allergy specialist and gotten a hearing test. From that she was given a hearing aid and assigned special seating in school.
A chiropractic examination was performed including neck x-rays. From the tests and x-rays, it was determined that subluxations were present in her spine. With this information, specific chiropractic adjustments were started to address the subluxations.
It was reported in the study that the next day in school, the girl was able to hear without the use of her hearing aid. This was confirmed by her mother who also noticed the difference. After just the first chiropractic adjustment, it was determined that the girl had regained her hearing and no longer suffered from any kind of loss.
This study also reviewed other documented and published case studies where hearing issues were resolved under chiropractic care. In their conclusion to this study the authors wrote, "This case report details the chiropractic management of a 9-year-old female patient diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, which resolved after a single chiropractic adjustment. This may suggest a role for chiropractic care in the co-management of patients with sensorineural hearing loss."