From the Institute of Osteopathy – Healthy Ageing and You – D Murgatroyd
It is normal for our muscles, bones, joints and associated tissues to change as we age.
Ageing does not necessarily mean that we will experience increased pain or stiffness. If you do, then treatment and advice from an osteopath can complement GP care and medicines. If you begin to notice problems, your osteopath can work with you to keep you healthier, allowing you to enjoy the pleasures of life into your later years.
Advice as you get older
Although aches and pains may be a common element of ageing, they don’t have to get in the way of your lifestyle. Here are some tips to keep you healthy and active: • Make sure you eat a healthy, varied diet • 150 minutes of exercise per week, in blocks of ten minutes or more (enough to make you warmer and breathe harder, whilst still being able to have a conversation) can help reduce the risk of circulation problems and falls. This might include activities such as dancing or brisk walking. It can also help to improve your mood and levels of confidence • Doing some form of balance exercises twice a week (for example, Tai Chi) is also recommended as you get older to help reduce the risk of falling, particularly if you are over the age of 65. Try to also include exercises that strengthen your arms, legs and body • The use of trainers or similar footwear can help absorb shocks and take the pressure off your knees, hips and spine when walking for longer periods • A short rest can help recover energy for the remainder of the day’s activities
It is estimated that around 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis.
In this condition the usually strong support struts that make up the inside of most bones become thinner, which can lead to bones becoming fragile and breaking easily, resulting in pain and disability.
There is a lot you can do to prevent the condition, and to reduce your chance of breaking a bone if you do get it. Osteopaths are well placed to screen patients for the condition and can offer practical advice on risk factors, prevention and treatment.
Arthritis describes a range of over 200 different conditions that can affect bones muscles and joints all over the body, causing pain, stiffness, fatigue and difficulty performing normal daily activities. There is currently no known cure for arthritis, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing that can be done to alleviate the consequences.
Two of the most common forms of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a condition that affects the joints and occurs due to natural age-related changes, causing pain and stiffness. One joint may be affected in isolation or it may affect multiple joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition in which inflammation of the lining of the joints occurs. This causes pain, stiffness and swelling. Other symptoms may include, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and anaemia.
The most important thing you can do if you have arthritis is to eat a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals and keep to a healthy weight.
Exercise can be very helpful for the symptoms of arthritis.
Most people with arthritis will have been prescribed tablets for their symptoms. In some cases, joint replacement surgery may also become an option but will not be required by everyone living with arthritis.
There are many different types of gadgets and aids available in shops and on the internet that can help you to maintain your independence and manage daily tasks.
Some people find that their symptoms get worse if they do too much of a certain activity. This is known as a flare-up. Pacing your activities (breaking tasks down into smaller manageable chunks and resting in between) can help. Arthritis can affect your mood and emotions. Some people find that socialising, positive thinking and relaxation can help.
How can your osteopath help?
Many people find it helpful to talk to an osteopath about ways of keeping active, preventing common problems such as falls and managing conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatic pain and osteoporosis. Osteopaths are highly trained, healthcare professionals, regulated by law and recognised as one of the Allied Health Professions by NHS England. Osteopathic care is a safe and effective therapy that aims to promote the health of people, through the use of manual therapy, exercise and health advice. It is suitable for all ages, from babies to the elderly.