Q: I was just diagnosed with osteoporosis. What does this mean exactly?
A: Osteoporosis is a common disease that causes a thinning and weakening of the bones. It can affect people of any age. Women have the greatest risk of developing the disease, although it also occurs in men. Osteoporosis affects 55 percent of Americans aged 50 or older; one-half of women and a quarter of men will fracture a bone.
Thin bones are the cause of 1.5 million fractures per year in the United States? hip fractures alone result in 300,000 hospitalizations. It is important to diagnosis osteoporosis early so that steps can be taken to lessen the risk of fracture.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by low bone density (thickness of the bone), decreased bone strength and a change in the bone structure, which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. The normal bone structure becomes thinned out and porous, lessening the ability of the bone to withstand the typical forces that are applied in everyday living. Fractures from osteoporosis and low bone density can be serious, causing pain and affecting your quality of life.
Bone is living tissue. Normally, one type of cell removes bone and another type of cell adds bone in a balanced, ongoing process. In osteoporosis, bones weaken when not enough new bone is formed and/or too much bone is lost. This imbalance commonly begins in women during the first five years of menopause. However, it can also occur in men and in children, often due to diseases that affect bone development, such as Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis or kidney disease. Some medicines, such as steroids, may increase your risk for developing osteoporosis. Athletes who are underweight during the time of peak bone development are also susceptible.
Q: Are there things I can do to help prevent osteoporosis?
A: Yes, there are some and others that are not within your control. There are many factors that can cause a person to be at risk for developing the disease. It is important to know your risks so that you can be diagnosed and proactive in your treatment.
RISK FACTORS FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
Noncontrollable risks include: Female gender, small frame, advanced age, genetics, predisposing medical conditions
Controllable risks include: cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, inactive lifestyle, excessive caffeine intake, lack of weight-bearing exercise, drugs (eg, steroids, heparin), poor health, low weight, calcium-poor diet, low vitamin D levels.
Q: How can a physical therapist or wellness trainer help? Is there something I can do to reduce the likelihood of suffering a broken bone?
A: Your physical therapist can develop a specific program based on your individual needs to help improve your overall bone health, keep your bones healthy, and help you avoid fracture. Your physical therapist may teach you:
Specific exercises to build bone or decrease the amount of bone loss
How to improve your balance so as to reduce your risk of falling
How to adjust your environment to protect your bone health
Healthy bone is built and maintained through a healthy lifestyle. Your physical therapist will teach specific exercises to meet your particular needs.
The exercise component for bone building or slowing bone loss is very specific and similar for all ages. Bone grows when it is sufficiently and properly stressed, just as muscle grows when challenged by more than usual weight. Two types of exercise are optimal for bone health, weight-bearing and resistance.
It is best for a physical therapist to provide your individual bone-building prescription to ensure that you are neither over- or under-exercising. Typically, exercises are performed two to three times a week as part of an overall fitness program.
Weight-bearing exercises: Dancing, jogging, racquet sports, heel drops, stomping.
Resistance exercises: Weight lifting, use of exercise bands, water resistance, gravity resistance - push-ups, sustained yoga poses.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis or low bone density, your physical therapist will work with you to:
Build bone or lessen the amount of bone loss at areas most vulnerable to fracture through exercise - hip, spine, shoulder, arms.
Improve your dynamic balance to avoid falls.
Improve your posture and your work and living environments.
Help you avoid exercises and movements that may contribute to spinal fracture, including any type of sit-up or crunch, and excessive spinal or hip twisting.
Conservative treatment of a fracture includes bed rest and appropriate pain medication. Your physical therapist will work with you to:
Decrease your pain through positioning and other pain-relieving modalities
Provide appropriate external devices, such as bracing, to promote healing and improve posture
Decrease your risk of a fall, strengthen your muscles and improve your postural alignment
If you are middle-aged and older, you may begin to notice postural, balance, and strength changes. Your physical therapist will work with you to:
Optimize your exercise program to promote bone growth or lessen bone loss
Improve your dynamic balance to avoid falls
Improve your posture
Improve the strength of your back muscles
Improve your hip strength and mobility
Chautauqua Physical & Occupational Therapy is located inside the Riverwalk Center, 15 S. Main St., Suite 220, Jamestown, 14701 and can be reached by calling 488-2322. We are therapist owned and offer free consultations if you are experiencing pain. We have a new wellness program called The Live Well Center to increase strength, to address weight loss, cardio vascular health and much more. Hours are Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Your insurance plan may have wellness benefits to cover the cost of this program. Call us today to learn what therapy could do for you or visit our wellness center to have a wellness evaluation developed for you by a physical therapist using evidence-based practice to develop a program specifically designed to meet your goals. Visit our website at www.chautauquapt.com.