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Alternative and complementary therapies offered by the NHS

How can the alternative and complementary therapies offered by the NHS benefit the elderly?

The idea of alternative and complementary therapies being used within the NHS has been a controversial issue for many years, with many doctors questioning the effectiveness of certain treatments. Since 2004 the use of complementary therapies offered by the NHS has increased and ongoing research has reassured medical professionals that offering these services to patients is proving to have many benefits. As an aging population and the average person in the UK living into their 70s, we are expected to live with various long term conditions such as: arthritis, dementia and osteoporosis, which can severely effect a person’s quality of life.


Acupuncture is an increasingly popular practice which involves small, fine needles being inserted into channels known as ‘meridians’ to release energy (also referred to Qi) – although in conventional practice it is believed to work through the stimulation of nerves. Acupuncture has been proven to aid in the relief of various age-related conditions, especially chronic joint and neck pain which can be caused by conditions such as arthritis.


Osteopathy is the process of manipulating the natural movement of the joints by massaging and stretching the limbs which increases the flow of blood to the tissues surrounding the joint, therefore increasing the overall movement and flexibility. As we age, we can sometimes experience the gradual deterioration of our joints which can be caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. There is a strong amount of evidence to suggest that Osteopathy can be extremely beneficial for treating the symptoms that are often experienced with people who have these conditions and patients report feeling an improvement in their overall mobility. Alongside treating the conditions symptoms, the NHS sometimes offer treatments after surgeries (such as hip or knee replacements) which can also aid in the patient’s recovery.


Chiropractic treatment is regularly offered on the NHS for the treatment of lower back pain, which is a common complaint in elderly patients. This is due to the wide variety of age-related conditions, some of which can cause patients to fall, limp or sit down for long periods of time which can worsen lower back pain. Although the NHS do not yet offer chiropractic care for other conditions, clients may feel that they benefit in other ways from their treatment. Private therapists often use chiropractic treatment to treat more than just musculoskeletal conditions, as they also claim to treat psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Depression is an unfortunately common problem in the elderly, as they are more likely to experience the feelings of loneliness and loss. Although there is not yet enough research to make chiropractic treatment available as treatment for depression, there is evidence to suggest that the ‘touch’ involved can be particularly soothing and reassuring – which can be an indirect benefit of this treatment when provided by the NHS.


The Alexander technique is becoming increasingly common within the NHS, with healthy evidence regarding its effectiveness in relation to Parkinson’s Disease. The Alexander Technique works by focusing on the patient’s posture and awareness of their positioning. This is done by working closely with a teacher in an outpatient environment, where they will provide the patient with advice that will be unique to them and their condition. Alexander techniques efficiency in the treatment of Parkinson’s is widely recognised, with many patients reporting significant improvements in their ability to complete day to day tasks. Alongside the treatment of Parkinson’s, there is also evidence to suggest that it can improve balance in the elderly which can therefore reduce the risks of trips and falls.

Article by Maria from

Omawake is the online home for holistic therapy, alternative medicine and a balanced harmonious lifestyle.

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