It is interesting to see how the age range of the patients that we treat as Osteopaths appears to be changing. We have not taken a recent audit but historically the average age of our patients has been about 47 years old. We suspect that this remains the same but that the distribution has most likely altered. This week for example Mark has seen patients who are 101, 94, 91, 90, 87 and 86. This is becoming quite a regular occurrence compared with when he first started working as an Osteopath in 1989 when it was quite unusual to be treating someone in their 90s. What is most pleasing to see is how active these patients are.
At the other end of the scale – and not such a positive aspect – is the number of teenagers that we are seeing with ongoing chronic aches and pains. We are sure that you will all have read various theories on this. Our thoughts are that amount of sleep, heavy school bags, poor posture, use of computers / smart phones, lack of exercise, poor (use of) seats at work or home, exam pressure and worries about friendships or family relationship issues, etc all contribute to these types of symptoms.
Much has been written about school children using rucksacks instead of bags – this is helpful if they fit well but in my opinion the key issue is more importantly the weight of the bag. We all know how we feel if we carry a bag of shopping too far, tossing it from shoulder to shoulder in the hope of making it more comfortable.
Long hours studying need to be broken with physical activities to get movement into the thorax – anything that encourages some deep breathing will help. Also providing the right supportive seats to use at home and as well, of course, as some good old nagging! Mark was recently called out to visit a 17 year old who had experienced an episode of acute pain. She had a desk and suitable chair in her room but they were smothered with all sorts of things and Mark was told that she did all her studying sitting against her bed – clear reason for the acute pain!
On the whole teenagers respond very well to Osteopathic treatment whereas at the other end of the scale the Octogenarians and up tend to require maintenance treatment to maintain function of their joints. However, unfortunately teenagers are also susceptible to some unpleasant conditions that need to be identified as early as possible, so please do take complaints from teenagers seriously – particularly if symptoms persist for more than a few days – and seek advice from an Osteopath or your GP.