Avoiding falls through Osteopathy
I often see patients who only realise their balance has deteriorated once they suffer a fall. Slipping and falling, as an adult, can be scary, painful and potentially physically and mentally debilitating.
At this icy time of year, injuries from falls can happen to anyone so it is important to take time to reduce your risk. If you normally have good balance and agility this may be as simple as investing in some sturdy winter footwear, slowing down and gritting the paths outside your house.
However, if you have found yourself or a loved one is increasingly unsteady and prone to falling, please seek help from your GP in order that they can diagnose/treat any potential medical cause.
Factors that can make you fall
- Decreased agility from joint stiffness and pain, and muscle weakness – can be due to inactivity, ageing, previous injury or joint conditions such as arthritis or gout.
- Decreased coordination from: rapid growth in teenagers; hypermobility.
- Dizziness or fainting due to low blood pressure, heart conditions, dehydration, overheating; fatigue, anxiety, low blood sugar.
- Sensory changes: eyesight; inner ear infection or conditions such as vertigo.
- Numbness and nerve control issues due to trauma or diabetes, brain tumour, multiple sclerosis or dementia.
It is also worthwhile eliminating hazards from your home such as: lose carpet, curly rug corners, clutter, bed legs sticking out, slippery floors including showers, baths or wet tiles. Ensure stairs and hallways are well lit and you have sufficient handrails.
How can Osteopathy help?
Musculoskeletal causes of unsteadiness such as joint stiffness and pain or muscle weakness can reduce our ability to accommodate uneven surfaces or recover quickly from a missed step.
An Osteopathic assessment reviews your posture, alignment, range and quality of movement to determine specific joint and whole body biomechanics and combines the picture with lifestyle, general health and historic factors.
Using hands on treatment and exercise and posture advice we can help reinstate good movement and therefore agility.
Whatever your primary injury, the body will carry a tension pattern from the impact that can cause problems for a long time after the initial symptoms have healed. For example, a sprained ankle can cause a ripple effect up the body both initially and from altered gait afterwards. This can result in protective muscle tensions in the nearby leg muscles, opposite hip, spine and neck and shoulder tension from using crutches or being in pain.
Osteopathy can help decipher and treat this pattern greatly by relaxing the muscles in those areas, reducing inflammation, improving joint mobility and aiding blood flow to accelerate healing and integrated movement.
After the appropriate recovery time it is important to rehabilitate yourself back to full mobility, strength and confidence. Not only will you regain your previous life, but you will prevent future falls.
If you, or someone you care about, is becoming more prone to falling your first visit should always be your GP. Subsequently our team of Osteopaths, at The Odiham Clinic, can assess your risk factors and assist your rehabilitation.
Katie Clayton, Associate Osteopath