WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?
Osteoporosis, is a common disease in which bones become thinner and more porous. This process occurs over the course of many years and affects both men and women. The loss of bone mass is “silent,” thus until a fracture occurs many people do not know they have a problem. Although, there is no cure for osteoporosis it is treatable and there are ways to help prevent and/ or minimize bone loss and thus fractures.
Risk factors you cannot change:
Gender– Women have less bone tissue and lose bone faster than men due to menopause.
Age– Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
Body size– Small, thin-boned women are at greater risk.
Ethnicity– Caucasian and Asian women are more at risk than African American and Hispanic women.
Risk Factors you can change:
Excessive alcohol intake Insufficient Calcium and Vitamin D intake
Medication use– Talk to your doctor regarding medications that may increase your risk of bone loss
Sex Hormones– Abnormal absence of menstrual periods, low estrogen or low testosterone levels
Preventing falls is a serious matter for people who have osteoporosis. Falls can cause fractures, limit mobility, and lead to dangerous medical complications. A thorough evaluation needs to be performed by a physician to assess medical conditions that may cause falls (eg. impaired vision, balance, various diseases, and medication).
Environmental factors that can help prevent falls are:
- Wear supportive rubber-soled shoes for better traction.
- Walk on grass when sidewalks are slippery.
- In winter, carry salt to sprinkle on slippery sidewalks.
- Be careful on highly polished floors that can become slick and dangerous when wet.
- Keep rooms free of clutter, especially floors. Use rubber bath mat in shower or tub.
- Avoid walking in socks, slippers, or stockings.
- Be sure carpets and area rugs have skid proof backing or are tacked to the floor.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom walls near tub, shower, and toilet.
- Use night lights.
Physical therapists understand and treat a vast array of problems that can affect movement, function and health. Therapists are experts in designing individual exercise programs that will safely help one achieve their goals. Research has shown that for osteoporosis, you need to include balance, weight bearing and resistance exercise. Weight bearing exercises are those where your bones and muscles work against gravity. These exercises include: walking, stair climbing, hiking, dancing, and low impact aerobics. Resistive exercises are activities that use some form of resistance to improve muscle, bone strength, and mass. Examples include: weight training, swimming, bicycling, Pilates, and using elastic bands.