Osteoporosis: The Facts

Osteoporosis:The Facts

From the Healing Bridge Physical Therapy

Fall 2004 Newsletter

by Healing Bridge staff

 

Osteoporosis has become a prominent disease in our society. It affects 25 million Americans each year, 80% of those diagnosed are women. A woman’s risk of developing a hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

Osteoporosis in its simplest terms means “porous bones.” From childhood to about age 35, our bones grow and gain strength. Because estrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone strength, after menopause women tend to lose bone strength.

Several risk factors for osteoporosis have been identified:

Family history

 

• Individuals with small frames

 

• Low body weight

 

• Low calcium intake

 

History of eating disorders

 

• High caffeine/soft drink consumption

 

• Inactive/sedentary lifestyle

 

• Smoking history

 

• Early menopause

 

Osteoporosis is most commonly diagnosed by a bone density scan. Physicians often order the scan pre-menopausal to obtain a baseline bone density measurement. It is recommended that all women over the age of 65 be tested.

Bones adapt themselves to the stresses we impose on them, so performing weight-bearing exercises can slow the loss of bone strength. The more your bones are required to bear weight and move against resistance, the stronger they will be. Another benefit of regular exercise is your increased ability to balance.

Starting an exercise program can be confusing. We can help develop a program that is safe, effective and specific to you! There are numerous weight bearing exercises to chose from. The key is finding the one you enjoy.

Walking is highly recommended due to the low impact on joints. Hiking, aerobic and ballroom dancing, tennis, rowing, weight training, cross country skiing and swimming are all great activities to get your bones into shape. If osteoporosis is already present, basketball and aerobics may be too stressful for the skeleton. In these cases walking or resistance swimming may be more appropriate. All exercise programs should be started slowly and built up gradually in order to prevent muscle strains and joint pain.

Also, postural changes can be pronounced with osteoporosis. We can help you recognize these changes and work toward healthy posture and alignment.