For the older adult (40+) overcoming injury, pain and the effects of the ageing process can be difficult. Over time our bodies become weaker, stiffer and less capable of handling physical stress. Ironically, many older adults lack appropriate physical stress - a lifetime of sedentary work or lack of exercise can often lead to poor health later in life. Increasingly I work w/people that require joint replacements or have had them and still lack a high level of functionality. I also work with highly active, athletic older adults who are determined to maintain their lifestyle.
Working with older adults often means identifying activities they enjoy and focusing on how to maximize their body's potential for healthy movement.
Chronic Pain Management
I started my massage career working with chronic pain patients, many suffering from motor vehicle or work related accidents. Massage therapy was recommended after they went through the mill of practitioners, injections and prescriptions. Often the referral to a massage therapist was an acknowledgement of failure by the health care practitioner(s). Since they weren’t getting better the problem must be in their head, seeing a massage therapist might help them relax and maybe feel better.
My early experiences with chronic pain patients exposed the flaws in our health care system – patients moving through a system of passive care that was largely ineffective. Ironically I also learned that massage therapy alone as a treatment modality for chronic pain was part of this passive care protocol. I remember thinking “there has to be a better way of doing this”.
My focus with chronic pain treatment now is to treat everyone like an athlete who is injured. The goal is to get the patient actively engaged in their treatment process which includes a self care routine similar to an athletic training program. Massage/manual therapy is still included as part of the overall treatment as is exercise, mindfulness and breathing exercises etc. If significant emotional content is a factor in the condition a referral to psychotherapist is essential.
Successful treatment of chronic pain often involves several practitioners: PCP, orthopedists, chiropractors, physical therapists, nurses, psychotherapists etc. A team approach is often the most successful when there are several practitioners involved. I believe strongly that open communication and collaboration are essential for safe and effective health care with these often challenging cases.
Sports injury rehab is the main focus of my work with athletes. Sports injuries can be complex with multiple factors. I review their training program and exercise routine, I look at how running shoes fit and where their knee tracks while riding a bike (on a wind trainer in my office). I also use simple video analysis tools (Dartfish) to provide feed back. With athletes I get to use my whole tool box: manual therapy, corrective exercise, stretching, strength training and movement education. Once they are out of pain and back on the right track with their training I help them stay on track which is very rewarding to me.