One of the unfortunate effects of our golden years is suffering from age-related disorders. Some of these problems include irregular gait, poor balance, joint pain and stiffness, decreased strength and endurance, loss of muscle and bone mass, and an impaired healing rate.

Some important statistics:
· 1/3 of all seniors will have a serious fall at sometime in the remainder of their lives.
· Iatrogenic death (death caused by being in a hospital or as a side effect of a medication) is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
· 17% of non-institutionalized individuals over age 65 have some difficulty in the performance of basic activities of daily living (eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, transferring, and walking).
· 30% of all women who are over the age of 50 and postmenopausal have osteoporosis.
· As a group, the elderly are the recipients of about 30% of prescriptions and 40% of over-the-counter medications.

What is Chiropractic?
The nerves in our bodies are the command center for everything else in our bodies. Chiropractors believe that since the nerves exit from the spine, a properly functioning spine is necessary to have a properly functioning nervous system, thereby leading to overall bodily health.
The goal of a doctor of chiropractic is to relieve you of a serious interference to your healing and health--the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). You may have it in you and feel no pain for years. It causes lack of health and wellness and robs you of vitality, strength, and energy. VSCs weaken your immune system, causing lowered resistance and setting the stage for sickness.
The treatment of symptoms is not the role of chiropractic. Chiropractors are not pain doctors. Many symptoms, in fact, are a necessary part of the healing process! For example, fevers help burn off infections; pain is a sign that something is wrong; high blood pressure is usually secondary to some body malfunction that deserves investigation. When a chiropractor corrects VSCs, he/she is helping the body to function more naturally, with less spinal imbalance, without interference to the nervous system. The body is then better able to heal itself.
This is all in contrast to the medical approach which often consists of suppressing symptoms: aspirin lowers fever, antihypertensive drugs lower blood pressure, painkillers relieve pain, antacids soothe the stomach, corticosteroids relieve inflammation...and the list goes on. The action of these drugs may be quick, and at times necessary, but they never deal with the cause of the symptom; they are only a Band-Aid for the symptom itself. Chiropractic strives to treat the cause, not the symptom, of a health problem.

What Will a Chiropractor Do?
He/she will start by taking a thorough history on you. He/she will then perform an exam to more closely identify your unique problem and its cause. This exam may or may not include X-rays. Then he/she will explain your problem and outline a treatment plan for you.
Just as an orthodontist doesn’t put on braces one day and expect the teeth to be straight the next, a chiropractor doesn’t perform one treatment and expect your spine to be perfect. It takes time and multiple treatments to train your spine to stay aligned.

Chiropractic Care for Seniors
Chiropractic care is 100% safe for seniors. If you are osteoporotic, your chiropractor can use gentler methods of adjusting to ensure your safety. The following are some common conditions that seniors suffer from and chiropractors can help:

Osteoarthritis
This is a common condition. The term “arthritis” is being phased out of use in recent years, as the suffix “-itis” implies inflammation. In fact, osteoarthritis is due to a wearing down of the cartilage in between joints, not inflammation. The condition is more correctly termed “degenerative joint disease.” This condition starts in most people in their 30s and then becomes worse as we age. It is worse in joints where there is some sort of postural stress or trauma.
The most recent research suggests that DJD is due to toxins that our body stores in joints, which eat away at the cartilage. Where there is excessive loading, the problem is accentuated. Most often, though, the degeneration is due to disuse instead of overuse. That is why joint mobilization is useful and helpful for DJD suffers. Your chiropractor can help mobilize joints, recommend pain-free exercises for you to keep the joints moving safely, and give you nutritional recommendations regarding joint health.

Bursitis
Bursa are sacs around your joints that keep tendons from rubbing on the bones. Bursitis is the condition when unusual stress to the area or friction from the surrounding structures causes these sacs to become inflamed. Occasionally, bursitis may be complicated by infection, in which case the area of the bursa is reddened, warm, swollen, and very tender. If infection is suspected, your chiropractor will make the appropriate referral. Otherwise, the chiropractor can adjust and mobilize the affected joints (yes, chiropractors can work on areas other than the spine!) so that the tendons do not rub there. He/she will also recommend the appropriate amount of rest and exercises so that the condition does not recur.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is defined as a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, leading to enhanced bone fragility and a consequent increase in fracture risk. The major consequence of osteoporosis is fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist. Approximately 20% of patients die within first year after a hip fracture and only 33% of survivors regain the level of function they had prior to the hip fracture. Vertebral fractures are usually found incidentally on X-rays and they can lead to loss of height, postural changes, increased thoracic curve (back humping) and persistent pain.
If you already suffer from or are at risk for osteoporosis, your chiropractor can make the proper nutritional recommendations for you to increase your bone health. He/she can also recommend an exercise program for you to increase your bone density. And of course, he/she can adjust you to keep you free from VSCs!

Frozen Shoulder
Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, affects one person in every 50 each year. It usually affects individuals between 40 and 70. Usually, the patient presents with insidious onset of shoulder pain; however, they can usually recall a specific date. When the pain is severe, it is present at rest and is increased with all shoulder movement. The pain is described as vague generalized shoulder pain, which can travel along the outside of the arm down into the forearm. The person has difficulty lying on the involved side and complains of sleep problems. The main complaint is that of stiffness, pain, and inability to move the shoulder.
Your chiropractor will combat this condition by focusing on pain relief with ice, ultrasound, or electrical therapy modalities. He/she will then provide gentle manipulation of the shoulder joint, and cervical and thoracic spine. He/she will then guide you through gentle exercises in a pain-free range of motion and continue on to more difficult shoulder stabilization exercises.

The above are just a few of the conditions that you may be suffering from that chiropractic has great success. If you have any questions regarding your specific condition, feel free to contact Dr. Heller at (414) 774-2300.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Heller is a chiropractor with additional education and training in strength and conditioning, both for athletes and non-athletes. Her post-graduate education has focused on extremity injuries, women's health, and nutrition. She also has extensive experience in teaching aquatic exercise classes. http://www.healthritellc.com