A new study in the journal Chiropractic and Manual Therapies calls the evidence for chiropractic medicine in older and elderly adults "limited" and urges chiropractors to learn more about treating our seniors before offering services like spinal manipulation and acupuncture to them. The piece is part of the journal's series that looks specifically at the potential role of chiropractic medicine in older adults.
Chiropractic medicine is one of the most-used of all the "alternative" medicines when it comes to those age 65 or older. While only about 5% or so of our nation's seniors reportedly seek out such care, chiropractors say that folks in that age range typically make up about 15% of their practice. But people that age are more likely to deal with chronic medical conditions like Parkinson's and osteoporosis. They're also more likely to have had a heart attack or a stroke. And that, say these experts, makes it "imperative" for practitioners to be aware of those special circumstances. Chiropractors may want, for example, to use less force during spinal manipulation treatments or avoid certain types of manipulation altogether.
But is it even safe at all to be working on the spine of a patient who has . . . say . . . osteoporosis? The data we have currently seems to suggest that it can be. A very small 2009 study, for example, looked at data on 114 chiropractic patients and found that while 6 of them suffered an "adverse event" those complications were not ultimately linked to their treatments.
Ultimately, though, there just isn't enough evidence that chiropractic medicine is effective or safe for older adults, say the authors of this latest piece, and far more study is needed before chiropractors start hanging out shingles advertising services like spinal manipulation and acupuncture for our seniors and elderly.