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Senior Health

Nothing is more important as you age than maintaining pain-free mobility. It keeps both the body and brain sharp.

Caring for Seniors – What I’ve Learned

There are some things they just can’t teach you in school. You have to learn from experience.

The chiropractic education I got (from New York Chiropractic College in the late 1970’s) was thorough as far as it went. They couldn’t have crammed much more into those four years.

Of course we learned the distinction between acute and chronic conditions, studied many aspects of the aging process, and mastered a variety of manual therapy techniques so that we’d always have an appropriate option ready to use regardless of the age or health status of a patient.

But in the years since, as I’ve aged and the average age of my patients has increased, too, I’ve learned much more about the different ways a doctor of chiropractic has to care for individuals as they progress through their fifties, sixties, seventies, and beyond.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

 

Traumatic injuries versus long term wear and tear

An athletic guy in his thirties can all too easily tear one of his rotator cuff tendons throwing a baseball or swinging a tennis racket. The condition is painful and impairs the ability to move the shoulder. Surgical repair is an option, and the results are typically favorable.

In contrast, if you’re over sixty you could have a tear in a rotator cuff tendon and not even realize it. You might have little or no pain and no noticeable functional impairment. Oftentimes the condition doesn’t even require treatment, and when it does, surgical repair is rarely the first option.

Despite the fact that they’re given the same name, a rotator cuff tear (for example) is an almost completely different diagnostic entity in an older person as compared to a younger person.

The human organism is resourceful. Even as long-term wear and tear begins to affect you, a complex web of adaptations often allows you to continue functioning in those ways that are most meaningful to you.

 

Loss of elastic tissue function

Flexibility and elasticity are two different properties of your muscular and skeletal systems. Flexibility is a measure of how far you can move your joints and stretch your muscles. Elasticity refers to how readily the body snaps back to its starting position once it’s been stretched.

If your exercise program includes regular activities that expand your range of motion, you can maintain flexibility throughout life. But no matter what program of healthy living, nutrition, or exercise you adopt, it’s nearly impossible to prevent loss of tissue elasticity as you age.

Loss of tissue elasticity is the reason that older athletes, no matter how strong their muscles are, can’t get as much power into their tennis forehand or golf swing. When a younger athlete winds up for a stroke, she’s storing energy in her connective tissues. As she follows through with the swing, her connective tissues spring back, releasing that stored energy and delivering more power to the racket or club head.

The passive energy-storage-and-rebound effect happens to a much lesser degree in an older athlete.

Loss of elasticity is one of the reasons that older people have to move into and out of body positions more gradually. For instance, when you bend forward, you stretch the intervertebral discs of the low back. When a younger person straightens up again, those discs snap back into line. But the discs of an older person have lost their elasticity and can’t snap back – instead, they ooze back into place. That takes longer. If you move too quickly, a fragment of your disc can get pinched.

 

Longer healing time

Healing takes time. In an older person, it takes more time. That’s because the body systems responsible for healing – digestion, endocrine function, enzyme activity, among others – all become more sluggish as we age.

To some degree, you can fight back with better nutrition, regular balanced exercise, maintaining healthy intestinal flora, massage to improve circulation, and other health measures.

 

Loss of brain quickness and its effect on movement

As you age, your nerve responses slow down. That puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to quickly answering question on Jeopardy. But it also makes your movement responses slower.

Slowing down of nerve response time is one of the main reasons seniors are at risk of losing their balance and falling.

 

Changing expectations

With younger patients, my goal (in general) is to find out what their problem is and fix it. But for an older person, the purpose becomes more one of managing a combination of longer term problems. Fortunately, people of every age can improve their health and fitness.

 

Sense of humor

A sense of humor gives a health boost to anyone, young or old. But for an older person, taking an irreverent view of life isn’t optional, it’s essential.

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“Dr. Lavine’s treatment addresses several conditions that I developed early: fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, knee pain, and foot problems. You’d think I was a walking disaster! But at 61 I lead an active life and manage quite well. I don’t need pain medicines and my overall health is better. I can work long days reading, writing, teaching, and making jewelry– all of which I love.”

Mariana R

“I have been going to Ron Lavine for a number of years. His neurotactile therapy works wonders for the aches and pains which I have. I think it feels better than a massage. I highly recommend him.”

Liz Cook

“I have known Ron for over 20 years. I have had to use his services from time to time because of either back problems, or shoulder and neck issues. Every time, Ron solved my problems through efficient treatments.”

Michel Couturier

About Dr Lavine

I’ve been in practice for nearly 40 years and I’ve paid attention to my own shifting set of health needs and the different strengths I can build on as I age. And my patients have gotten older too. I’ve had to develop expertise in helping those past the midpoint of life. NeuroTactile® Therapy, the gentle body awareness exercises I utilize, and other methods I’ve incorporated allow me to provide excellent value to those seeking to maintain health, improve fitness and cognitive function, and enjoy life robustly.

FAQ

Is chiropractic care safe?

Yes.

Is chiropractic care gentle?

Dr. Lavine uses a range of treatment methods, some of which are extremely gentle. Part of his experience lies in choosing the right style of treatment to get you system functioning better as quickly as possible.

Are there negative side-effects?

The most common side effects of chiropractic care are positive ones – feeling healthier and more robust. Another common side effect is a temporary increase in soreness. This typically resolves within a day or two. More significant side effects – worsening your underlying condition or creating a problem you didn’t already have – are exceedingly rare.

How long will Dr. Lavine spend with me?

There’s no set length for an appointment. But Dr. Lavine never typically schedules more than two patient visits per hour, and leaves double time for a consultation with a new patient.

Will Dr. Lavine treat me on the first visit?

Most often, yes.

Will Dr. Lavine crack my back?

Maybe. One method that Dr. Lavine uses is manipulation of the joints of the spine. This sometimes results in a popping noise as the spinal joints regain their normal mobility pattern. It’s a safe and painless procedure. Nonetheless, it’s not suitable in all cases and it’s never suitable for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with that method of treatment.

Will I need to come for a series of treatments?

Most often, yes. The goal of the initial visit is to begin to determine what’s causing your problem and begin to find a way to fix it. Sometimes that means that you’ll respond strongly and immediately to the initial treatment and you’ll soon be heading back toward health. But far more often, a series of visits is needed to fully understand all of the ways your body needs help and allow your system a chance to heal.

I’ve heard that people keep coming to their chiropractor for months or even years. Is that true?

Most patients will begin to respond positively within a handful of treatments. Once they’ve achieved their initial goals, some patients choose to continue with periodic tune-up visits to alleviate stress as it builds up and keep on top of their game. That’s an individual choice.

Does Dr. Lavine take my insurance?

Dr. Lavine is not an in-network provider with any insurance network. Insurance networks are designed for the provision of generic chiropractic treatment, not the personalized, diversified treatment that Dr Lavine offers. If you have an insurance plan that covers out-of-network doctors, Dr. Lavine may be able to accept your case on an assigned-benefits basis. Call to find out more.

What about Medicare coverage?

If you have traditional Medicare (not a Medicare Advatage plan) you’ll pay doctor Lavine’s fees and he will submit a Medicare insurance claim on your behalf. You’ll get partial reimbursement based on the Medicare chiropractic fee schedule. Call for more information.

Is Dr. Lavine’s treatment suitable for older people?

Yes

Is Dr. Lavine’s treatment suitable for children?

Yes

What about X-rays? Will I need X-rays or MRI’s?

There are occasional situations in which imagining tests such as Xrays or MRIs would be useful in determining your diagnosis. But this is infrequent.

What specific methods does Dr. Lavine use?

Dr. Lavine uses a variety of manual therapy techniques designed to help your body reorganize itself to alleviate pain and allow for an optimal pattern of body movement. Broadly, there are three components of treatment: mobilization and manipulation of the joints, connective tissue treatment, and therapeutic movement. Within each of these three broad categories there are innumerable specific types of treatment that Dr. Lavine is skilled in. Every patient is different and every treatment plan is unique.

Will Dr. Lavine work with my regular medical doctor? Orthopedist? Physical therapist?

Of course. With your permission, he’ll send a complete report outlining his examination findings and treatment plan to any of your other physicians or therapists.

Will Dr. Lavine show me what to do to prevent my problem from coming back?

Yes. Any treatment plan also includes self-care tips, therapeutic exercises to do at home, and useful lifestyle modifications to deal with ongoing stressors.

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