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Taking Care of Older Joints (and Younger Joints, Too)

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Chiropractic Care and Musculoskeletal Joint Flexibility

Chiropractic care is designed to, among other benefits, improve flexibility of spinal joints. Loss of spinal vertebral motion leads to spinal muscle tightness and pain, which in turn may result in numerous other physical problems. For example, headaches, lack of restful sleep, and increased irritability may all have a common cause in loss of spinal flexibility.

By helping increase mobility in your neck, mid back, and lower back, chiropractic care improves your body's overall functioning, including balance and coordination. By helping remove ongoing sources of musculoskeletal irritation, chiropractic care reduces internal physiologic stress. The many benefits may include improved peace of mind, enhanced interpersonal communication, and a better ability to respond effectively to your home and work environment.

Many people experience increasing musculoskeletal joint stiffness as they get older. Shoulders, knees, and ankles don't seem to be as flexible as they once were. It seems more difficult to bend over and pick up a dropped object. It may be uncomfortable to turn your head around to see the car in the next lane that's right in the center of your driver's blind spot. The bad news is that, left unattended, your joints do get stiffer as you get older. Left on their own, your joints will likely lose full mobility. The good news is there's plenty you can do about it. You can regain and retain much of your youthful flexibility if you are willing to be proactive.

First, some basic physiology. Joints such as the shoulder, knee, and ankle are lubricated by synovial fluid. Synovial fluid keeps joints moist, provides oxygen and nutrition, and washes away toxic end-products of normal metabolic processes. The joints in your spine are also lubricated and maintained in this way. But aging reduces the amount of available synovial fluid. Also, normal aging processes increase the viscosity of the remaining synovial fluid. You have less available lubricant and the lubricant that you do have is thicker. The result is stiffer joints, pretty much from top to bottom.

The specific countermeasure to such physiologic aging is to keep active. This is a pretty challenging prescription in a world in which most of our time is spent seated. Our bodies were designed for hard, physical work. But as we've transformed from an agrarian to an industrial society, and more recently from an industrial to a service-based society, the nature of our work has changed dramatically. The vast majority of our work is now done seated at a desk. When we're not typing on a computer keyboard or reading a spreadsheet, we're at home watching TV, playing games on our computing devices, or very rarely, reading. None of these activities involves active motion. If we want to take care of our bodies, we're going to have to be proactive about creating the time to do so.

We're going to be creating time for exercise. Almost any type of exercise causes synovial fluid to be more available, pumping synovial fluid into joint spaces and helping to lubricate joints.1,2 Exercise increases your internal core temperature, which in turn decreases the viscosity of synovial fluid. The overall result is increased joint flexibility. This benefit is often experienced immediately. The benefit will be long-lasting provided that you continue to exercise regularly.

Thirty minutes of exercise per day, 5 days per week, will assist most of us in maintaining as much joint flexibility as possible. Alternating a cardiovascular exercise day with a strength training day is an optimal program.3 Yoga provides a total body workout which incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Ultimately, the types of exercise you do are less important than the long-term consistency. Regular, vigorous exercise, done over months and years, will provide great benefit, not only in terms of improved joint flexibility, but also in terms of overall health and well-being.

1Seco J, et al: A long-term physical activity training program increases strength and flexibility, and improves balance in older adults. Rehabil Nurs 38(1):37-47, 2013
2Garber CE, et al: American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 43(7):1334-1359, 2011
3Micheo W, et al: Basic principles regarding strength, flexibility, and stability exercises. PM R 4(11):805-811, 2012

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Testimonial

I slipped on ice in December, landing hard on my behind. I was in excruciating pain and could barely move. It was a Saturday night but I called the office and left a message (new patient, too, found them on Google.) I received a call back first thing Monday morning, they got me right in that day, and I just completed my 3- month treatment plan. I feel so much better and am happy to have found Dr. Ide and his staff.

  ~Amy Hawker

Dr. Ide and his staff are awesome. I had all but given up and I saw his ad. I am s happy to be out of partial pain and I have only gone twice, I cannot wait for the end results. Just to be pain free. Dr. Ide, I thank you so much.

   ~ Patsy Dimond-Spencer

Dr. Ide and his staff have given me my life back. The day I called to make my first appointment I had been suffering from a migraine and severe neck pain for 6 days. This was also after receiving multiple pain injections from my primary physician with no relief. His staff not only verified my insurance was accepted at this location before even offering me an appointment time (which multiple offices will not do this) over the phone but I was able to make an appointment for the same day. Dr. Ide took the time to obtain pertinent patient history and not only explain but he also showed me on my x-rays why I was experiencing pain. He addressed the root of the problem instead of pushing prescriptions to subside your symptoms. HE discussed my POA in detail and reiterated why finishing therapy and continuing home therapy was important. I was hesitant and nervous about my first adjustment but again, he took the time to walk me through each step. Paired with my weekly adjustments I also receive massage therapy. Monica, the massage therapist is incredible. She takes the time to ask specific questions before the massage to ensure she provides the best care possible. Kasey, Dr. Ide's assistant is extremely personable and continues to make sure you feel comfortable throughout your visit. The front staff also provides a warm and welcoming environment. Within my first month of treatment, I'm able to go das without a headache now and I have reduced the frequency of my pain medication. I highly recommend Dr. Ide and his staff!

    ~Leah Craig

Very friendly staff and knowledgeable doctor! After doing a 3 month program, I no longer have daily headaches, back pain or neck pain. Most doctor's adjust your back and send you on your way - Dr. Ide makes sure to turn it into a lifestyle change by improving your posture and fixing any issues you may have. I would definitely recommend him over any chiropractor.

    ~Lauren Dunigan

I always have good service and leave feeling good! The people are nice and all know my name. I really like how they do business for senior citizens... that's a big plus!
~Nancy Matson

Very extensive in the examination. Not like other chiropractors I'd seen who just do a quick adjustment. They diagnosed the problem and are working to correct it with me. They have even went so far as to work out payment arguments for the things my insurance wouldn't cover.

    ~Brandon Ogle

I had neck and shoulder pain since 2010. Ever since I started going to him I have felt better and better!

    ~Andrel Jacobs 

I had ankle problems all my life in my left foot. Dr. Ide adjusted my ankle for me and within one adjustment my ankle felt the best ever. Thanks Dr. Ide!

              A.H.
              Fenton, MI

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