What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that can make your bones weak and brittle, putting you at high risk for fractures. It is sometimes called a silent disease because you can’t feel your bones weakening. Often, a broken bone is the first sign to let you know something is wrong—and by that point, the disease is already fairly advanced.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is closely related to ageing. That’s because your body is constantly renewing your bones.
When you’re young, your body is able to make new bone fast enough that your bone mass increases. But by age 30, this process slows down enough that bone mass starts decreasing.
There are also a number of risk factors that can contribute to your chances of developing osteoporosis. They include:
- Low calcium intake
- Lack of physical activity
- Certain medical conditions like cancer, celiac disease, and kidney disease
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Long term use of corticosteroid medications (these drugs can interfere with your body’s bone-rebuilding process)
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis
In the early stages of bone loss, there are typically no signs to look out for. But when bones have been weakened enough, you might experience symptoms including:
- Loss of height over time (caused by compression fractures in your vertebrae)
- Stooped posture
- Back pain
- Stress fractures (tiny cracks in a bone that become more painful over time)
- A broken bone from normal activity, a small bump, or even a sneeze
How is Osteoporosis Treated?
There are many options for treating osteoporosis and minimizing the risk of fractures. They include:
- Physiotherapy: Can provide exercise programs that strengthen bones and improve balance to reduce the risk of injury.
- Medications: A range of medications are used to treat osteoporosis by slowing the rate of bone breakdown. The most common type is bisphosphonates.
- Hormone therapy: Sometimes used for the treatment of osteoporosis, however, due to concern about potential side effects, it’s recommended to use the lowest dose for the shortest period possible.
Physiotherapy for Osteoporosis
At Activa Clinics, our physiotherapists can create individualized plans to treat osteoporosis. Those treatment plans can incorporate a variety of therapies, such as:
- Exercise planning and education
- Recommendations on overcoming functional limitations and avoiding injuries
- Massage therapy
- Aqua therapy
- Functional braces
- Custom orthotics
- Vestibular rehabilitation
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
Here are some simple tips for reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Don’t smoke. It increases the rate of bone loss.
- Avoid drinking alcohol excessively. Having more than two drinks a day can decrease bone formation.
- There is some evidence that suggests supplements like soy and vitamin K-2 can lower the risk for bone fractures.
Book an Appointment
At Activa Clinics, we can diagnose whether you have osteoporosis and create a custom treatment plan to help you. While people age 60 and over are at a higher risk, younger people can develop osteoporosis too. So it’s a good idea to get checked out if the risk factors above apply to you.
Our treatments will help you overcome whatever limitations you’re facing and prevent bone fractures before they happen. Don’t wait to break a bone before getting your osteoporosis diagnosed!
The only way to know for sure whether you have osteoporosis or not is to undergo a bone scan. If you are losing height, have persistent back pain, are starting to stoop or have broken a bone during normal activity see a doctor. All of these symptoms and issues can be a sign that your bones are weakening, so ask them to check for osteoporosis.
High salt foods, beans, legumes, wheat bran and caffeine have all been shown to be bad for osteoporosis. Whereas eating a diet that includes high levels of calcium, vitamin D, zinc, vitamin K, magnesium and vitamin C is good for people who are suffering from the condition. Drinking too much is also bad for osteoporosis because it slows the formation of new bone.
If you have osteoporosis it is extremely easy for you to break your bones. So, you should stop participating in contact sports. As well as avoid activities that put your bones under pressure. You should not do anything that requires you to twist your spine a lot, for example playing racquet sports. Nor do you want to be bending a lot, for example planting plants. Certain Pilates and yoga moves, such as the Warrior pose should also be avoided.
Osteoporosis can cause compression fractures of the spine. These fractures can be very painful because the collapsed vertebrae may pinch the nerves that radiate out from the spinal cord. The pain symptoms can range from minor tenderness to debilitating pain.
Osteoporosis left untreated can lead to serious bone fractures, especially in the hip and spine. One in three women is likely to have a fracture caused by osteoporosis in her lifetime. Hip fractures can cause serious pain and disability and require surgery.
Severe osteoporosis is defined as having a bone density that is more than 2.5 SD below the young adult mean with one or more past fractures due to osteoporosis.