Osteopathy and Seniors

osteopathy for seniors st clair west torontoManual Osteopathy and Seniors

There are several barriers that put elderly people at risk of being untreated or under-treated in health care, such as difficulty with doing a proper assessment, atypical manifestation of pain, and under-reporting of pain. Being under-treated has an adverse effect on geriatric patients’ quality of life, which might result in anxiety, depression, immobility, disturbance of sleep and mobility impairment. In these cases physicians might prescribe inappropriate prescriptions or pain killers to just control the pain not to treat the exact cause of the pain (which might be due to lack of time spent with each patient). The holistic, interdisciplinary and non-pharmacological approach of manual osteopathy can optimize pain management and can help to pinpoint of the exact cause of musculoskeletal and soft tissue pain.

Educating Seniors

Educating patients and helping them in their treatment sessions can optimize seniors’ functional abilities. Some behavioral and lifestyle aspects may contribute to improve seniors’ overall well-being and their degree of life satisfaction. Changing these behaviors and educating patients are one of the responsibilities of manual osteopaths, apart from the treatments they provide.

Due to the aging process and a wear and tear effect, musculoskeletal systems and organs stop working as well over time. Therefore, consideration of nutrition and weight control can simply help seniors in many ways. For example, using supplements and the proper use of vitamins and minerals may prevent elderly people from osseous changes (i.e. demineralization and joint stiffening), which may occur due to aging.

In addition to nutrition and proper weight loss advice, manual osteopaths can provide therapeutic exercises and posture correction exercises which can help with faster recovery and health promotion of seniors. Not only educating them to do so, but also try to convince them to use the advice. Giving advice is meaningless without persuading people to take the advantage it!

These kinds of education and helping in the healing process can be beneficial for prevention of illness as well as curing the existing illness, so overall it is a very powerful tool to help seniors, and is one which does not have the adverse effects of drugs that other health care might provide.

Goals of Manipulative Treatment for Seniors

The purpose of any manipulative treatment is varied with the patients’ condition and his/her problem, although the ultimate goal of each treatment in any clinical situation is the patient's improvement. Treating elderly patients with manual osteopathy is a holistic approach, which means that it helps to enhance the affected part along with the alignment of whole body systems.

Manual osteopathy can help patients to return to a degree of independence in their activities. With the help of Joint Mobilization and Muscle Energy Techniques their range-of-motion in a particular joint will increase, so the patient can experience restored functional abilities faster and better. In this way they can prevent secondary disabilities and prevent multi-system diseases along with increasing their feelings of well-being and being healthier in general.

Relief from pain is another goal of manual osteopathic treatment for elderly patients. The pain might come from body composition changes due to aging such as tightening of fascia sheaths, atrophy in muscles, or storing more fat in the abdominal region. Soft Tissue Therapy is more desirable in these conditions. Soft Tissue Therapy not only helps to breathe new life into the body with its relaxing effects and helping blood circulation and lymph system to work better, but also it has a profound effect on the whole body system’s functioning.

Amendable Clinical Conditions

Medical science is flourishing with assistance from all health professions and researchers in all aspects of human living. One of the most important aspects of this flourishing is the hands-on care and healing touch of which manual osteopaths are capable. Manual osteopaths can treat and prevent illness or injury by palpating the affected area, and this now has scientific evidence from numerous bodies of research. Thus, this profession is being regulated in almost all countries around the world for all ages and background groups, especially the elderly and middle aged people. With moving muscles, organs, ligaments, and joints, and with using stretching, pressing and resisting techniques, manual osteopaths can treat several disorders and disabilities. According to the considerable amount of research, manual osteopathic treatments can be a favorable complement or even a replacement for some drugs or surgeries, which is why it is one of the important dimensions and standards of medical care.

The main part of a manual osteopathic treatment is for neuromuscular and joint pain such as back, knee, shoulder, ankle, wrist, elbow, and neck pain. This principle is very effective for seniors who have the highest numbers of these kinds of neuromuscular junction problems, and manual osteopathy is a distinctive, gentle and useful practice for their treatments.

In addition to those general complaints, manual osteopathy can provide treatment and prevention for specific disorders and syndromes as well. According to research, there are numerous studies that confirm the benefits of osteopathic manipulation on hospitalized elderly patients with pneumonia, congestive heart failure, stroke, constipation, sinus disorder, migraine, menstrual pain, Parkinson's, carpal tunnel syndrome, and respiratory diseases.

Traditionally, osteopathic manipulation studies on elderly people have been in hospitalized inpatients and outpatient scenarios with different disorders. Researchers categorized patients randomly in two different groups: one in the real case treatment sessions, and one in the control group to prevent any placebo effect and examining the real effect of treatment. In most studies the hospitalized duration, painkiller and antibiotic usage, range of motion, and patient overall health complaints were being compared between the control group and the study group. There were significantly shorter hospital stays and drug usage and a marked increase in the range of motion and overall improvement in health of elderly patients. This has often been recorded for study groups done with osteopathic manipulations.


In conclusion, in light of osteopathic treatments, physician and surgeons can optimize the effectiveness of their procedure for seniors. With advising and educating elderly people to change their lifestyle, diet, and encouraging them to do therapeutic exercise, elderly people can improve their functional abilities and prevent possible future illnesses; as a result appreciating their quality of lives more. With applying joint mobilization techniques, muscle energy techniques, and soft tissue therapy, seniors can improve their range of motion, relieve pain, have better posture and functional ability as well as better blood circulation, which are the ultimate goals of osteopathy treatments. The majority of research also shows that osteopathic manipulation treatments help elderly people to recover from their illnesses. Therefore, it is becoming more and more standardized each day in each country for all age groups, especially for elderly people.


By Nazanin Eshghi Moghaddam, DOMP


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