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Risk of Falls for the Elderly During the Winter & Osteopathy

Risk of Falls for the Elderly During the Winter & Osteopathy

By: Menashe Rakhamimov,

Cold temperatures present an assortment of hazards and risks as we spend more time outdoors

Icy roads.cold-induced stiffness and reduced visibility are some of the many risks we experience in Canada or other cold countries. These factors make it more likely for people to be prone to falls or injuries, especially if we cannot avoid commuting through slippery conditions. At a young age, we may not consider winter as a harsh environment. We are encouraged to play and enjoy the snowy weather, but for the elderly stepping outside can lead to serious injury.

Seniors have less balance, may have poorer visibility and less stable joints. These traits make it more likely for them to fall on icy roads or sidewalks. The main concept involved here is our proprioception, which is defined as the awareness of our self-movement and body-position. As we age, our proprioception deteriorates, and there is a poorer feedback system of our body position through space. The decline of this feedback system combined with other limitations such as weaker muscles, reduced vision, and more brittle joints make it a lot more problematic for seniors facing slippery roads.

Besides the cold weather, seniors are already more prone to fall and injury based on other factors. Seniors may have less sensitivity in their feet, ankles, knees, and hips as a result of arthritis. Arthritis is the inflammation and pain in our joints and progresses gradually as we age. If seniors take medications for arthritis or other ailments, side effects such as dizziness can increase the risk of falls as well. Lastly, seniors may suffer from an unsteady gait due to progressive muscle weakness if they don’t practice healthy exercise habits. Muscles lose their elasticity, and how they recoil from lengthening also worsens with age, which is the reflex response the muscles need to protect themselves after a quick or sudden movement.

Due to this, it is no surprise that seniors are already much more at risk once the cold, icy weather sets in. In fact, every one out of three adults aged 65 or older falls once the weather drops. Also, according to the Canadian Health Institute of Health Information, 70% of fall-related hospitalizations occur during January, February, and March. What could be more alarming is that older Canadians are nine times more likely to suffer an injury from falls leading to hospitalization or death, and for those 75 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.

There are many ways seniors can decrease their chances of being at risk for falls. Some of the obvious solutions are staying indoors, wearing the proper footwear, planning your commute, and being aware of the groundwork ahead of you. However, another important solution is keeping up with regular exercise. Proprioception significantly improves with exercise since it increases muscle strength, motor control, and joint stability. Exercise in which seniors are involved with reactive movements such as tennis may also improve their reflex which may make a marginal difference in protecting themselves once an unexpected fall occurs.

How Osteopathy Can Help

Joint stability that worsens due to conditions like arthritis may be improved with the manual treatment of osteopathy.  Consecutive osteopathic treatments that focus on musculoskeletal realignment combined with physical exercise could help seniors over time. The synovial fluid that lubricates your joints slowly erodes with age, which may lead to the development of arthritis bone-on-bone contact. Osteopathy’s joint mobilization and traction techniques can help manage arthritis symptoms.

RELATED: Osteopathy and Low Back Pain

In Osteopathy, treatment of the joints is a primary focus, and it involves using joint distraction techniques. The joint is repeatedly distracted, which is essentially the opening and creating space between two opposing bones. This helps encourage the synovial fluid to enter the joint space and re-lubricate the joint. Not only does this improve the mobility and range of motion, the joint can actively go through, but it also improves the neural response traveling from the joint to the brain.  When facing a sudden change in direction or pressure which is involved when a person may be going through a fall, it is that feedback to the brain that affects how the joint and related muscle groups will instinctively guard the body.

The first aim of osteopathic treatment for patients with arthritis is to help improve joint mobility, then secondly to regaining joint strength. This is done by the involvement of consecutive therapeutic exercises done in osteopathic treatment. Osteopathy acknowledges that seniors who have limited strength and who are more prone to injury may not be able to perform certain types of resistance work The osteopathic practitioner constructs the most appropriate and safe therapeutic exercise for the patient to practice once they see that full mobility is regained. The benefit here, however, is that the joint mobilization, joint distraction techniques, and subsequent therapeutic exercise for that joint and muscle group are done directly with the practitioner present. Essentially the osteopathic treatment is almost completely hands-on, and the patients remain under constant supervision and control through their rehabilitation work.

So, once the cold weather sets in, and the roads with snow and ice, seniors should be extra careful. They can take the proper steps in regaining their ability to balance, move, and regain control if a fall may occur. Through osteopathy, their sense of their environment can improve as those joints, the ligaments between them and the muscles around them could stabilize to help protect them from serious injuries.

References

 (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/higher-risk-of-slip-and-fall-accidents-during-winter-29352

Fall Prevention In Seniors: Taking Care During The Winter Months. (2015, October 26). Retrieved from https://www.comfortkeepers.ca/toronto/blog/fall-prevention-in-seniors-taking-care-during-the-winter-months/.

Gevitz, K., Madera, R., Newbern, C., Lojo, J., & Johnson, C. C. (2017). Risk of Fall-Related Injury due to Adverse Weather Events, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006-2011. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5676509/.

Preventing winter falls that can result in serious injuries: Philips Lifeline ®. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lifeline.ca/en/resources/healthcare/connections/winter-falls/.

Ribeiro, F., & Oliveira, J. (2007, August 7). Aging effects on joint proprioception: the role of physical activity in proprioception preservation. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11556-007-0026-x.

Holiday Season 2019

Holiday Season 2019

There is no magic in order, so why do you work so hard to clean up your world?

Let it snow and let it be.  There is a speck of hidden beauty everywhere around you that you overlook most of the time.  So why not take the time?  Despite the pressure to get everything ready in time for the holidays and stressing out about deadlines, why not pause for a moment and appreciate the hidden beauty of the holiday season?  The end of the year is the season of gratitude and reflection.  This holiday season we wish you a bounty of solitude and little moments with yourself.  May the magic find you and reflect the beauty of your heart.  This is the time to appreciate You.

 

Have You Tried Our New Online Booking System?

For your convenience, we recently introduced a new online booking system. https://pacificwellness.janeapp.com/

With our online booking system, you can manage your appointment schedule and yes, you can also manage your payments.

Just ask our front desk assistant to register your credit card in our secure booking system.  Every time you come for a treatment and need to pay, we can charge your account and email you the necessary receipt for your online insurance claim.  This way you do not need to line up and wait at the front desk.

If you have family members coming for appointments and you want to pay for their treatments, your credit card can be linked to their account.  These arrangements can help make everyone’s visit go smoothly.

 

Insurance Tips for the End of 2019

How to Fully Benefit from Your Insurance Benefits?

If your policy year is the same as the calendar year, there is no time left for postponing.  You can still creatively make the most out of your benefits by considering the following suggestions:

If you have a mobile application with your insurance company go to the coverage information and check under Paramedical Benefits if you are covered for the following practitioners:

Massage Therapist

Acupuncturist

Chiropractor

Naturopath

Osteopath

If you do, check the eligibility (confirm that medical prescription requirement is not mentioned) and check the coverage amount.

Go to our online booking system and book your appointments.

 

Some Details You Need to Know:

Regarding Osteopathy:  The following insurance companies will cover the osteopathic treatment if included in the policy:

Great-West Life
Green Shield Canada
Manulife Financial
Sun Life
Desjardins Insurance
Cowan Insurance Group
Chambers of Commerce

If your coverage is with Industrial Alliance or Blue Cross, you may not be eligible for coverage.

Please be aware that direct billing is not available for this type of service, however the cost can be reimbursed upon submitting your receipts online.  If you are new to this service, take an advantage of the discount and use your benefits just in time before the benefits expire at the end of the year.

 

HOLIDAY SPECIAL

One Hour Massage Gift Certificate

Buy 3 and Get 1 Free
Some conditions apply.  Please inquire for details.
Offer ends on December 24, 2019.

Low Back Pain and Osteopathy

Low Back Pain and Osteopathy

By: Menashe Rakhamimov, Manual Osteopath

Low back pain is one of the most common conditions affecting adults today.

In fact, approximately 80% of all adults will have some low back issues in their lifetime (1).  Low back pain is also one of the most common reasons people visit their physicians. It is estimated that low back pain related medical costs range from $6-$12 billion every year (2). Many people work at their desk for long hours dealing with lifting injuries or just being inactive, and will have their low backs face a lot of unwanted stress.  How does low back pain start? How can it be avoided? And what is the best treatment? These are the questions we will address in this article. I am a Manual Osteopath who works directly with low back conditions and we will go through how you can manage your low back pain with Osteopathic treatments.

Osteopathy is essentially a gentle form of manual therapy that mainly addresses musculoskeletal conditions which is one of the most common conditions people come in for treatment and there are many reasons why this problem arises.

Low back pain is increasingly on the rise with adults in the present. Since the low back area is the body’s center of gravity it is quite clear why much of our daily stresses take a toll on the low back. Firstly, desk jobs are a huge culprit for low back pain. Sitting at a chair for 8 hours a day means you are putting most of the pressure of your upper body right on the low back discs in the spine. Maintaining a poor sitting position at work consistently will aggravate the disc spaces in the vertebrae since you are maintaining a constant pressure right on those discs. Besides the discs, the muscles slowly weaken and lose their stability if they are stuck in a poor position. The first step when I see patients for osteopathic treatment is addressing the amount of time they maintain a poor sitting position. It is more of an issue when your body maintains one specific position for hours on end without moving as opposed to finding the best position to stay in.

In Osteopathy, daily movement is a big factor when it comes to treating chronic issues. We address how much time of the day patients lack movement and we go through certain movement exercises patients can incorporate into a routine as they go through each workday. The next step is strengthening those muscles that support the low back once there is significant progress with how much pain the patient experiences. If patients feel there is less pain after a number of treatments they can ease into certain therapeutic exercises provided by the Manual Osteopath. With these exercises, there would be more natural support in the low back even if they were to continue to put stress on it in the long-term.

Another major cause is lifting a heavy load or lifting incorrectly. Similar to poor posture taking a toll on the discs and muscles. Lifting a load that is too heavy compresses the disc beyond the point they need to be compressed and can lead to herniation or strained muscles. In Osteopathy we educate the patient about the correct posture they need to maintain if they are required to lift things. It is, of course, better to avoid lifting heavy at all if you already have a history of low back injuries. Low back pain can involve different physiological factors that can come up with certain activities or movements. Even if you have a history of low back issues in the past, pain or twinge can randomly come up in the day during some awkward movement or lift that you may not notice. Once a low back issue or injury comes up, it is more likely for it to arise again if the person doesn’t take into account the correct steps to maintain and prevent the problem.

During the osteopathic treatment, the majority of the time will involve the Manual Osteopath going through various techniques. The primary goal in osteopathy is to restore mobility and essentially get to the root of the issue. In Osteopathy we involve joint mobilization to help restore the space around each joint and free up that deep restriction you may have in the back. The next part of treatment is muscular which involves stretching work and soft tissue work. This will improve the range of motion and help prevent further injury and strain on the back. Joint mobilization and stretching techniques are repeated and held numerous times throughout the treatment and many patients experience significant relief even after their first session. The last step is therapeutic exercises which will involve taking the muscles through some sort of resistance. It is mainly with resistance work that helps build the muscle strength is built since you are putting the muscle through some form of challenge.

This is the brief layout of the osteopathic approach to low back pain. It requires the correct sequence of addressing poor posture while sitting, lifting mechanics and going through a thorough treatment. It is up to the patients who are dealing with low back pain to make sure they tackle one of the most important contributors to low back pain, physical inactivity. If you are consistently inactive you are not giving your muscles a chance to strengthen and improve in supporting your body through day-to-day activities. The original expression “If you don’t use it, you lose it” couldn’t apply more to low back issues. If you are constantly stuck in the same position then, go home and lie down day in and day out you will not actively engage your muscles for the long term and they will slowly wear away. The Manual Osteopath will make sure you keep up with the correct strengthening exercises so your muscles stay strong on a long-term basis. In Osteopathy we deal with low back pain by bringing attention to all these points and finding the correct order of techniques and treatment style that is most appropriate for each patient.

 

Sources:
Bone and Joint Canada. Low Back Pain. 2014. Available at: http://boneandjointcanada.com/low-back-pain/.  Accessed on October 26, 2018.

Canadian Chiropractic Association. Canada’s Low Back Pain Epidemic. 2018. Available at: https://www.chiropractic.ca/blog/canadas-low-back-pain-epidemic/. Accessed October 26, 2018.

Are you a candidate for osteopathy?  If you would like to try this treatment, book your initial 60-minute osteopathy session and receive a $20 discount.  This offer expires on December 31, 2019.