The real gauge of how much better you feel after chiropractic care, though, is how much you can do. If there were activities that you could not perform before care, can you now perform them better after care? The improvement in these Activities of Daily Life (ADLs) is a wonderful benchmark for assessing how well patients respond to care.
ADLs are especially important in older patients. These patients, who tend to have Medicare as their primary insurance, also tend to have more degenerative conditions and age-related restricted range of motion than younger patients. For older patients, simple tasks can be much more difficult because of arthritic joints or subluxated spines.
The good news is that, according to a new study that examined Medicare data, chiropractic care may provide protection against further decline in ADLs when compared with medical care. This means that if an older person is receiving chiropractic care, the odds are greater that he will still be able to reach over his head without upper back or shoulder pain, or that she will be able to reach down into her garden without low back pain.
From the study:
…we observed a protective effect of chiropractic against declines in ADLs, IADLs, and declines in self-rated health. [snip]
This study provides evidence of the comparative effectiveness of chiropractic care relative to medical-only services on the functional health of older adults during acute episodes of back care. Our results are the first to show the importance of examining chiropractic use within an episode of care in traditional practice settings, rather than focusing on visit frequency alone. Moreover, we evaluated the effects of the treatments received during the episodes on ADLs, IADLs, and LBFs, which are critically important measures that inform patients, clinicians, and payers about the benefits and harms of certain treatments relative to others. Given the literature supporting a minimally effective chiropractic treatment level for back problems, this research provides additional support that such therapeutic levels are indeed beneficial in terms of protecting older persons from functional declines and self-rated health over as much as 2 years.