07 Jun As we age….
As we live our lives and get older it is perfectly normal to get grey hairs and wrinkles. It is also normal for your muscles, bones, joints and other associated tissues to change as we age. However, this does not mean that we have to experience increased pain, discomfort and stiffness. If you are starting to notice these symptoms of ageing, osteopathic treatment and advice can be used in adjunction to the treatment you are receiving from GP and with the use of pharmaceutical products.
Ageing can negatively affect our muscle strength and size, which can result in feeling fatigued and being reluctant to exercise. This may be caused by a combination of factors including muscle fibres reducing in size and number, the slower replacement of muscle tissue, and changes to the nervous system causing the loss of muscle tone and the muscle’s ability to flex and contract.
As we age our bone structure changes and we can also lose bone density, making the bones weak and at a higher risk for breaks and fractures. The loss of bone density often results from a lack of calcium, leading an inactive lifestyle and hormonal changes.
Getting older can cause our joint movement to become less flexible and stiff, due to a decrease of synovial fluid (lubrication in the joints) and a loss of cartilage. The shortening of ligaments can also make the joints feel stiff and inflexible.
Common conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system in the older population includes the following list below, and these conditions can affect the functioning of associated muscles by causing pain and weakness:
- Osteoarthritis, when the cartilage in a joint breakdown causing pain and stiffness.
- Osteomalacia, due a deficiency of vitamin D and metabolism issues, bones become soft.
- Osteoporosis, the loss of bone density, which causes the bones to become brittle and susceptible to fractures and breaks.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect the whole body.
Regular exercise and staying physically active may help to prevent and even reverse the changes caused by ageing to our muscles, bones and joints. Exercising can strengthen your tissues and also slow the rate of bone density decreasing. Performing stretching exercises is a great way to keep your joints flexible. Exercises that help improve muscle mass and strength include strength training exercises, water activities (such as aqua jogging, standing water push-ups and water aerobics). These exercises are suitable for older generation and help increase both their muscle and bone mass. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or weight training can also be performed to help maintain body mass. Participating in balance and co-ordination exercises or activities such as tai chi can help reduce falls, improve balance and stability. Thus, also reducing the risk of fractures and breaks to the bone. The onset of osteoporosis can be delayed by physical activity and living an active life.
Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle hands-on techniques to help relieve your pain, reduce stiffness and tension, stretch the muscles and improve joint mobilization. Many patients find it helpful to talk to an osteopath about how to keep active, prevent common problems associated with ageing and how to manage conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis or rheumatic pain. Osteopathy is a holistic approach when it comes to treatments. Treatment plans are tailored to suit the individual needs of patients, depending on their age, fitness level and diagnosis.
Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. n.d. Ageing – muscles bones and joints – Better Health Channel. [online] Available at: <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/ageing-muscles-bones-and-joints> [Accessed 27 June 2021].
Buxton Osteopathy Clinic. n.d. Age Related Osteopathy Treatment | Buxton Osteopathy Clinic. [online] Available at: <https://buxtonosteopathy.co.uk/osteopathy/getting-older/> [Accessed 27 June 2021].
Iosteopathy.org. n.d. Healthy Ageing | Institute of Osteopathy. [online] Available at: <https://www.iosteopathy.org/osteopathy-for-health/health-ageing/> [Accessed 27 June 2021].