Can chiropractic care treat sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass people experience as they age. Reduced muscle mass makes it more difficult for older people to do everyday things, such as carrying heavy grocery bags and walking quickly for long periods of time. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for sarcopenia, including chiropractic care.

What exactly is sarcopenia?

From the day you’re born until around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow bigger and stronger. At some stage in your 30s, you begin to lose the muscle mass you spent three decades developing. This is called age-related sarcopenia.

If you’re physically inactive after reaching 30 years old, you can lose 3-5% of your muscle mass each decade from then on. Even if you maintain an active lifestyle, you’ll still have small levels of muscle loss each decade. The effects of sarcopenia usually speed up after the age of 75, but they can sometimes increase as early as 65 or as late as 80. 

Treating sarcopenia is important because the condition reduces strength and mobility. It’s one of the reasons older people are frailer and at a greater risk of falls and fractures than younger adults.

Other causes

Although it’s the most common, aging isn’t the only cause of sarcopenia. Researchers believe that sarcopenia can also be caused by:

  • Having an extremely sedentary lifestyle
  • Consuming insufficient protein and calories to maintain muscle mass
  • Decrease in hormone levels
  • Decline in your body’s ability to turn protein into energy
  • Reduction in the nerve cells that tell your muscles to move

Symptoms of sarcopenia

The most common symptoms of sarcopenia are weakness and loss of stamina. These symptoms can both interfere with physical activity, making it more difficult and tiring to move around and take part in activities that build muscle mass. This, in turn, reduces muscle mass even further. It’s a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break on your own.

Effective treatments

Strength training

Strength training or resistance training is the primary treatment for sarcopenia. This form of exercise works by increasing muscle strength and endurance by combining workouts with resistance bands and weights. 

This type of workout supports your neuromuscular system and increases your hormone levels. It can also improve your ability to transform protein into energy in just 14 days. 

To get the most out of strength training with minimal risk of injury, it’s important to develop a custom exercise plan. The number of workouts you do, as well as their intensity and frequency, needs to be optimized for the best results. Your chiropractor can help put together an individualized workout plan designed for your lifestyle and level of sarcopenia.

Medication for sarcopenia

Although it’s not the preferred way of treating sarcopenia, there is some research into the effectiveness of treating the condition with medication. Some of the most promising medical treatments include:

  • Growth hormone supplements
  • Testosterone supplements
  • Metabolic enhancers, including medication for obesity, insulin resistance, and hypertension

Medication isn’t designed to be the sole treatment for sarcopenia. It’s most effective when combined with strength training and chiropractic care.

Chiropractic care

Muscles aren’t the only things that get weaker with age. Your spine also reduces in strength. Experiencing decreased muscle mass in the core stabilizing part of your body that supports your lower back and spine can put you at a greater risk of injury and pain.

When you have a weakened support system, your intervertebral discs are more likely to give in to herniation, while your spine’s vertebrae may trap nerves. This can leave you hunched over and suffering from intense back pain as you grow old.

A chiropractor can monitor the health of your spine, joints, and muscles to determine when things aren’t as they should be. Through specialist spinal adjustments, massage therapy, and lifestyle guidance, your chiropractor can help you combat the effects of sarcopenia and maintain your quality of life.

One Australian study concluded that spinal disorders may be one of the risk factors for disease-related sarcopenia. Having your spine thoroughly examined by a chiropractor, followed by any necessary adjustments, could help stave off the effects of non-age-related sarcopenia.

A separate study conducted in 2021 found a strong link between the time sarcopenia is detected and the severity of the symptoms. It concluded that the earlier the condition is diagnosed, the less intense the symptoms are and the quicker they can be reversed.

As chiropractors are uniquely positioned to determine which patients are most at risk of sarcopenia, it’s wise to have regular check-ups so you can mitigate the effects of sarcopenia as soon as they present themselves.

We’re here to help

If you’ve noticed that you’re not as strong as you used to be and need a little extra help, get in touch today. Our chiropractors will give you a full-body assessment and put together a care plan just for you. They’ll also be able to suggest an individualized exercise plan you can do at home to develop your strength even further.

Aging is inevitable but, in many cases, sarcopenia can be reversed. Make regular visits to your chiropractor part of your new healthy lifestyle routine and you’ll regain the muscle mass you thought you’d never have again.