Advancing years are often associated with the insidious onset of health problems. However, suffering pain, stiffness and poor health is not an inevitable part of getting older.
What do osteopaths do?
The body can be likened to a car, in that it needs regular servicing and maintenance as it gets older! Osteopaths treat the whole person not just conditions, and thus a very wide variety of different problems can be helped.
Osteopathic treatment is aimed at releasing strains and stresses that may be new or may have accumulated in the body over many years, thus improving mobility in any part of the body. The result is often an improvement in many different aspects of health.
How many treatments are needed?
Sometimes only a few treatments are needed, other people may take benefit from regular treatment, or an occasional “service” every few months to keep everything working.
Accidents, strains, trauma and posture
Most people will have suffered trauma at some point in their life, such as from falls, car accidents, or sporting accidents. Often people do not think that they have injured themselves at the time, but to the trained hands of an osteopath the effects of these accidents are often palpable years later as a continuing strain within the body tissues. This can make the joints more vulnerable to arthritic changes, and cause undue fatigue because more energy is used in simple every day tasks.
Falls are more likely as we get older. With increasing age, the body tissues lose some of their flexibility and elasticity and do not recover as quickly from trauma. This imparts lasting strains in the body, which can not only aggravate existing problems, but also predispose to other illnesses.
Posture tends to worsen with time, which can add to strains in the body as the muscles work harder to keep us upright.
Osteopathy aims to release residual strains, both new or old, allowing the body to function more freely.
This is the most common symptom of getting older. It can occur in many of the joints in the body, while some joints such as the low back, hips and knees are more vulnerable than others.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Enlargement and persistent swelling of a joint; aching, pain and stiffness, worse on initially moving a joint after resting; increased pain and swelling if the joint is overused.
Osteopaths are trained in diagnosis and evaluation. Our primary concern is the safety of our patients and ensuring that nothing serious is overlooked, and we will refer you to your GP if necessary.
Structure, function, and wear and tear
One theory of osteoarthritis is that the joints are subject to more wear and tear if the muscle tensions around the joint are out of balance. This can occur if someone has a history of joint injury or over-use, being or having been overweight, inactivity, or simply from structural or postural imbalances.
Osteopathy cannot cure osteoarthritis, but aims to ease old strains held within the body and may enable the joints to work in a more balanced fashion and with greater ease.
If replacement surgery is finally needed, the body tissues are generally in better health to cope with the demands of surgery.
Dentures and plates
Dentures and plates can cause structural problems in the head and neck. Normally there is a slight movement between bones of the face and head. An upper plate or denture has the effect of holding the bones of the upper jaw rigidly together, preventing or severely limiting the slight natural movement between them.
Strains may also be set up through the face as a result of dental extractions, ill fitting dentures, old or worn dentures (which cause a loss of height through the face), or from eating unevenly due to loss of teeth. Please see our page on osteopathy and dentistry.
Face or neck pain, headache, congested sinuses, ear problems or eye strain.
Plates and dentures should be removed at night to allow the face to free itself off for some hours during each 24 hour cycle.
Effects of Surgery
In some cases surgery can generate excessive scar tissue, and this can be the cause of problems within the abdomen or pelvis. It is sometimes possible to release some of these effects with osteopathic treatment.
Is Osteopathy safe for Older People?
Osteopaths are highly skilled and undergo a minimum of 4 years training. Gentle osteopathic techniques are quite safe for all ages. The cranial osteopathic approach is a particularly gentle way of working with the body’s own natural mechanism for releasing and re-balancing tensions, without force.
Osteopaths will always ensure that patients seek appropriate medical advice and treatment alongside any osteopathic treatment, and will refer patients back to their GP if a problem is not suitable for osteopathic treatment