Benefits of Osteopathy for Seniors

Osteopathy is a type of medicine that takes a full-body approach. Rather than focus on a specific condition, it aims to treat the whole person. It involves using alternative therapies to promote optimal wellness.

This form of treatment can be beneficial to anyone, but it has been proven to yield impressive results for seniors. Read on to find out more about osteopathy to find out if it’s right for you or someone in your life.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy focuses on treating the entire body rather than any specific condition. It heavily integrates manipulative medicine that involves movement, stretching, and massage. It is performed by a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), a physician who is licensed to perform surgery, prescribe medications, and use imaging techniques to diagnose and treat patients.

The treatment is often used to reduce pain, increase mobility and improve the circulation of blood and fluids throughout the body.

Why Osteopathy is Beneficial to Seniors

Osteopathy can be beneficial to anyone it treats, but it is especially recommended for seniors.

As we get older, we become prone to injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions, all of which can be eradicated and prevented with osteopathic treatment. Here are some of the conditions it can treat.


Arthritis is an informal term for joint pain and joint disease. There are hundreds of types of arthritis that may be linked to any number of underlying causes including injury, disease, or regular wear and tear.

Arthritis affects people of all ages, but it is most common in individuals over 65.

While arthritis can not be cured, it can be treated to minimize pain. Massage, physical therapy, and stretching that are part of osteopathy are recommended in the treatment of arthritis.


The body is continually absorbing and replacing bone tissue. As we get older, it is common for the body to slow down so that new bone creation is no longer able to keep up with bone removal. As a result, bones are weaker and more prone to fractures.

There are several exercises that can be used to treat osteoporosis including weight-bearing exercises that strengthen weak bones. This type of therapy would be considered a part of osteopathy.

Slow Circulation

Changes in the heart and blood vessels occur as we get older impacting circulation. Capillary walls may decrease, and the aorta may become less flexible. This makes it difficult for blood to circulate throughout the body.

When the body isn’t circulating blood at optimal levels, it makes the heart work harder increasing the risk of heart conditions. It can also cause muscle pain and stiffness and numbness and cramping in the legs.

Osteopathy encourages movement that keeps blood flowing throughout the body reducing the risk of heart disease and other related conditions.


Seniors are prone to illness and injury that may require surgery. Osteopathy is instrumental in the recovery process. The movements involved help the body build up strength and mobility allowing individuals to become fully functional once again.

Other Aches and Pains

Older adults may experience general aches and pains that may or may not be related to an underlying condition. Pain commonly occurs in the neck, back, shoulder, pelvic area, leg, or foot but it can manifest in any part of the body. Massage and exercise can relieve these aches and pains to boost overall wellbeing.

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines affect people of all ages, but they are common in seniors as they may be a side effect of a medication or medical condition that affects older adults.

Osteopathic treatments target underlying conditions that may cause the chronic pain of headaches. The therapy relaxes muscle spasms and tension that may be contributing to pain and encourages the movement and drainage of body fluids to promote healing.

Less Reliance on Medication and Surgery

Osteopathy is a method of natural healing. Seniors treated with this therapy are less likely to require invasive surgeries that can be expensive and lead to long recovery periods and medication that can cause unwanted side effects. Therefore, it is becoming more widely adopted as a treatment method throughout the world.

Better Mental Health

Seniors are prone to depression. Many of them live alone. It is also common for seniors to be dealing with ailments that reduce quality of life further fueling a reduction of mood.

Osteopathy is a relaxing therapy that soothes pain, as well as stress and muscle tension. It has a positive effect on memory mood and mental health. It provides a general improvement to overall health and wellness.

Increased Mobility

Many older adults deal with a decrease in mobility that makes it difficult for them to care for themselves. They may be unable to cook, clean, and perform other household tasks. While in-home care is helpful, it is not affordable for many seniors.

Osteopathy increases mobility making seniors better able to perform everyday tasks. This reduces the need for in-home care, and it makes them feel good about their accomplishments.

What to Expect at an Osteopathic Session

The first osteopathic session may take a full hour. The therapist will conduct a thorough examination to evaluate the patient’s physical condition and come up with the forms of treatment they feel will be most effective.

Subsequent sessions will last 30 to 45 minutes depending on the severity of the condition. During this time, the therapist may massage the patient or have them engage in a variety of exercises. They may do gentle stretching and they may ‘rock’ the patient to relax muscles and joints and boost circulation to affected areas in the body.

They may also recommend exercises the patient can do at home to increase the rate of healing.

Once sessions are complete, patients will feel relaxed and refreshed. It is recommended that they do their best to stay relaxed throughout the day to allow their session to take full effect.

Osteopathy is a wonderful alternative to traditional medicines and surgery. It is especially beneficial in improving seniors’ quality of life as it promotes optimal health and mobility. How will you be incorporating it into your healthcare routine?

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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