Helping you keep healthy in later life

Everybody gets grey hair and wrinkles as they get older. In the same way, 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. However, if this does become a problem, people often find that treatment and advice from an osteopath can complement GP care and pharmaceutical products. If you do 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.

How can your osteopath help?

You don’t have to put up with aches and pains simply because you are getting older. In fact, 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. Osteopathic care is based on the individual needs of the patient and so varies depending on your age, fitness levels and diagnosis. Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle hands-on techniques that focus on releasing tension, stretching muscles and mobilising joints.

Training and regulations

In the UK, the osteopathic profession is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council and by law, an osteopath must be registered with the Council to practise. To remain registered, they must comply with strict regulatory requirements and high standards of professional practice. They must also maintain regular professional development. These requirements give patients the same sort of guarantees and protection as those given by doctors and dentists. Osteopaths are trained to degree level attaining either a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or integrated Masters (MOst). Training takes a minimum of four years and includes a requirement to have over 1000 hours clinical experience with patients prior to registration. Osteopaths are recognised by NHS England as Allied Health Professionals, playing a critical role in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people of all ages. This is often used together with exercise and helpful advice designed to help you manage your pain, keep active and maintain the best of health. You do not need to consult your GP before you visit an osteopath, although you may wish to do so. 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:

• 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

• Make sure you eat a healthy, varied diet

• 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

What to expect

Osteopaths are highly trained professionals who are skilled in diagnosing health issues, including those which may require further investigation. When you first visit an osteopath, you’ll be asked about your current symptoms and medical history. All information will be treated as confidential in accordance with the standards of practice set out by the General Osteopathic Council and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), May 2018. It is natural to worry about your symptoms and the cause. Your osteopath will always complete a routine examination that checks for more serious diagnoses and will advise and discuss with you any further action that might be required. After this examination, your osteopath will discuss your treatment options and you will then jointly decide an appropriate and suitable treatment plan, and the likely associated costs. This plan may involve several visits and, very occasionally, further tests and/or referrals to another appropriate health care professional. Your treatment may begin at your first appointment. You may experience mild discomfort afterwards, but in most cases, this will pass within 24 hours. If you have any concerns about your treatment you are encouraged to discuss them further with your osteopath. If you wish, you are more than welcome to bring someone with you to your consultation.