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Created On: Jun 5, 2012

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Physical Therapies

Growing older doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant aches and pains. There are a wide range of therapeutic alternatives that can provide you with the relief you need to stay active and pain free. The following list outlines many physical therapies that are designed to alleviate soreness and tenderness.

Massage - Registered Therapists

Massage has been described as one of the oldest form of medical therapy practiced on the human body. The different types of massage and the various techniques are derived from traditional practices in ancient Greek and Roman, Indian and Chinese civilizations.
Dating as far back as 2,700 B.C., ancient Eastern Chinese cultures practiced massage to heal a variety of ailments from labor pain to paralysis. Ancient Egyptian tombs have been discovered adorned with images of figures being massaged. Indian medicine, a system known as Ayurveda, combined therapeutic massage with a variety of aromatherapy oils and spices for their healing properties. Even Greek and Roman heroes - such as the great Julius Caesar - underwent daily massages to treat nerve pain. Swedish massage is the most practiced type of massage in Western society. It stimulates the skin and nervous system and soothes the nerves themselves at the same time. It reduces stress, both emotional and physical, and is widely suggested as a regular program for stress management. It also has many specific medical uses.
Many of our now popular modern massage techniques were created in order to heal specific health conditions. Massage practices in use today are used to treat a wide range of maladies in a variety of intensive care, health club, and health clinic and hospital settings. It can be used to treat the symptoms of several conditions such as
 AIDS and HIV
 Cancer
 Osteoarthritis
 Paralysis
 Heart attack
 Stroke
 Back and neck pain

Massage Services
A variety of services can be provided in addition to massage therapy. Older adults seeking to alleviate their aches and pains may also want to try additional massage techniques including:
 A reiki practitioner will use their hands to channel energy from the universe to your body in order to assist your bodies efforts to heal itself.

 Rolfing is similar to a myofascial massage, but the technical term is “movement education”. Rolfing involves touching the skin, feeling around for imbalances" in tissue texture, and separating fascia layers that adhere and muscles that have been negatively impacted due to strain or injury.

 Amma therapy deals with the balance and movement of life energy (Qi) in the human body. The Amma Therapist uses the sensitivity and strength of the hands to manipulate and balance the life energy, whereas the acupuncturist will insert needles into these energy pathways to stimulate and move the energy.

 Osteopathy uses diagnosis and treatment promote healthy functioning by correcting imbalances within and between the muscles, bones, ligaments, organs, and fascia. The fascia is a very thin layer of tissue that is found under the skin. The imbalances within the body are corrected by restoring the natural working order of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
Geriatric Massage
Due to the rise in baby-boomers, many massage therapists are beginning to learn massage techniques that are specifically designed to help the elderly. This age-specific massage is either called senior’s massage or geriatric massage.
Seniors massage doesn’t differ much in technique compared to massage for regular adults. However, a massage therapist will use techniques that ensure the comfort of an elderly person. Specially trained geriatric massage therapists are aware that an elderly body must be positioned carefully on a massage table, compared to a healthy 30-year-old body. Seniors massage sessions will typically range from 30-mintues to an hour. However, when mobility is an issue, when the client is wheelchair-bound for example, the massage therapist will be forced to adapt and the massage may take longer as the massage therapist will administer massage to the client right in the chair.
Geriatric massage usually focuses on the hands and feet of their clients. Because older adults are more prone to arthritis and heart disease, a hand or foot massage may enhance body awareness, sensation and circulation in the extremities of an aging body.
Massage brings many benefits, including decreasing muscular stiffness or decreasing inflammation in the joints. Many conditions that are typical among elderly are also likely to be treated such as:
 skin discoloration
 muscle and bone deterioration
 tendonitis
 bursitis
 respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema
It is important to note that it is not appropriate to use massage on some forms of joint pain. A doctor should always be consulted first before agreeing to give or receive massage to treat pain.
Reflexology is a gentle form of therapeutic massage that is typically concentrates on the feet and sometimes to the hands. A reflexologist will apply pressure to specific areas on the feet, hands and ears to affect internal organs and body systems. Like most therapeutic treatments, reflexology is considered to be a holistic healing technique that aims to treat the individual as a whole, to ensure the body is in a state of balance and harmony of body, mind and spirit.
Acupressure is an ancient Chinese technique based on the principles of acupuncture, and involves the use of finger pressure (without the needles) on specific points along the body. Acupressure therapy stimulates and activates the body’s own energies to release blocked or congested energy centers in the body. Acupressure stimulates various points on the body and releases the toxic build up that accumulates in the muscle tissue; the accumulation of which causes stiffness throughout the body. Acupressure can be especially helpful to seniors who are trying to alleviate tension, stress, aches and pains or arthritis. Acupressure is quite similar to a traditional massage and lasts between 5 and 15 minutes.

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical procedures in the world, originating in China more than 2,000 years ago. The term acupuncture describes multiple procedures that use thin solid metallic needles to stimulate various anatomical points on the body. The Canadian practices of acupuncture use traditional medical techniques from Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. Acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body.
Acupuncture is quite safe if you seek out a qualified practitioner that endorses safe needle disposal and sterilization practices. Remember to check a practitioners credentials and their experience in the field before you use their services. Elderly people should not be afraid to try out acupuncture as the pain is quite minimal and most people report feeling energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.
Naturopath Physicians
Naturopathic Medicine is often seen as a new "alternative" health care option. But, the profession is not new; naturopathic medicine is now just over 100 years old in North America with a long and respectable history in Europe and other parts of the world. In the late 1940's with the surge in western medicinal practices, it lost much of its following and the numbers of Naturopaths dwindled. However, since the 1970's, the Naturopathic Profession, thanks to some pioneering and determined doctors, has been making itself noticed again and is once more taking its legitimate and necessary place in the world of medicine and our health care system.
Naturopathy is a system of primary health care, much like 'regular' medicine but with a different approach, and a set of defining underlying principles that inform how Naturopathic Physicians practice. Naturopathic doctors diagnose patients' diseases and disorders. They employ natural methods of healing, such as acupuncture, acupressure and spinal manipulation, in their treatment. They also may use reflexology, hydrotherapy, herbal medicines, biochemical therapy, nutritional therapy, homeopathy and psychological therapy.
The education of a Naturopath is similar to that of a Medical Doctor, but with some fundamental differences in the therapies that are used. Naturopathic Physicians have over 8 years of education, including an undergraduate degree and 4 years at an accredited Naturopathic School. Part of the training to become a naturopath involves a supervised clinical internship that typically consists of 1500 hours. Licensed naturopaths must complete an internationally standardized board exam upon completion of their degree.
Homeopaths provide certain remedies such as herbs to alleviate physical and mental problems that conventional medicine may not successfully treat. Most people first come to homeopathy when they feel they've been failed by conventional medicine. It may be that conventional medicine has been unable to help at all, or that the side effects are simply not worth the risk. Because homeopathy is completely natural, it is healthy for pregnant women, babies and the very frail. When the right treatment is diagnosed the results can be rapid, complete and permanent.

Homeopathy works in harmony with the immune system, unlike some conventional medicines which can suppress the immune system. Homeopathic remedies are not addictive - once relief is felt, you should stop taking them. If no relief is felt, you are probably taking the wrong homeopathic remedy. Also, homeopathy is holistic and the treatment addresses the cause, not the symptoms. But, because homeopathy involves a variety of natural ingredients, prescribing the right homeopathic remedy takes a little more time and patience than conventional medicine. The sheer range and number of remedies in use can cause practical problems for an average sized pharmacy. But, finding the right cure eventually can be a healthier and more affordable choice than taking conventional pharmaceuticals.

Relieving tension headaches or relief of long-term back pain can be assisted by physical therapy and massage, but spinal manipulation may be able to relieve the pain more quickly. Chiropractors work to relieve some types of back or neck pain or other conditions related to tightness and loss of mobility, such as aching in muscles and joints. Chiropractors can utilize multiple techniques that are often used in physical therapy and massage. They may also offer basic advice about nutrition, weight loss, exercise, ergonomics, relaxation techniques, body mechanics and other self-help techniques that will assist in relieving or preventing aches and pains.
Once you have found a qualified and certified chiropractor, you may benefit from the comforting effect of a hands-on treatment that provides a pleasurable way of relieving the aches and pains of everyday stress and strain. It should be noted that a small minority of physical therapists, osteopaths, and a few physicians also offer manipulative therapy. Chiropractors can sometimes be found working with these practitioners in back-pain clinics.

Physiotherapists plan and carry out individually designed programs of physical treatment to maintain, improve or restore physical functioning, alleviate pain and prevent physical dysfunction in patients. Physiotherapists are employed in hospitals, clinics, industry, rehabilitation centres and extended care facilities or they may be in private practice. Assess patients' physical abilities through evaluative procedures and implement programs to better patients’ physical mobility. Some of these programs may include therapeutic exercise, manipulations, massage, education, the use of electro-therapeutic and other mechanical equipment and hydro-therapy
Physiotherapists may specialize in specific areas such as musculoskeletal physiotherapy, women's health, aged care, chest conditions, occupational health and safety, sports medicine, babies and young children, problems of the nervous system and spinal injuries, administration, education or research.
Rehabilitation Services
Rehabilitation Services can help people with disabilities or injuries to improve their physical and mental faculties in order to achieve their employment and independent living goals. There are several types of rehab programs:
 Vocational Rehabilitation - program services include vocational counseling, planning, guidance and placement.
 Extended Employment - provides on-going employment support services to individuals in a variety of work settings.
 Independent Living - provides comprehensive services to people with severe disabilities to enhance their ability to live independently.
Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that uses pleasant smelling botanical oils such as rose, lemon, lavender and peppermint to care for body aches and pains. Essential oils can be added to a bath or massaged into the skin, inhaled directly or diffused to scent an entire room. Aromatherapy can be used to relieve pain, help with arthritis, care for the skin, alleviate tension and fatigue and invigorate the entire body. When inhaled, they work on the brain and nervous system through stimulation of the olfactory nerves.
There are about 150 essential oils. Most of these oils have antiseptic properties; some are antiviral, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antidepressant and expectorant. They can influence stimulation, relaxation, digestion improvement, and diuretic activity. To get the maximum benefit from essential oils, it should be made from natural, pure raw materials because synthetic oils do not work. Aromatherapy is one of the fastest growing fields in alternative medicine. Nature speaks to us, offering its healing powers, through all of our senses. Aromatherapy is one more way to capture this offering. It is widely used at home, clinics and hospitals. In hospitals it finds a variety of applications such as pain relief for women in labor pain, relieving pain caused by the side effects of the chemotherapy undergone by the cancer patients, and rehabilitation of cardiac patients.
Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning ‘finger pressure.” A shiatsu practitioner will use finger pressure and will also incorporate their thumbs, palms, knees, forearms, elbows and feet to treat their patients. Similar to acupressure, shiatsu pressure is applied to the areas of energy lines (meridians) to promote good health by 'stimulating the body’s energy flow. Shiatsu can help alleviate the pain associated with a wide range of conditions.
Some of the immediate physical benefits of Shiatsu are to:
1. Stimulate the circulatory, lymphatic and hormonal systems.
2. Regulate the activity of the autonomic nervous system.
The session will begin with gentle stretching and manipulation techniques to help relax the muscles. Because shiatsu uses pressure to treat sore areas, an elderly person should notify the practitioner if the pressure is too hard or soft. The amount and type of pressure depends on the specific needs of the individual. The shiatsu treatments often last between 40 minutes and 1 hour on a padded mat on the floor.

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