What is it?
- 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 applied during daily life. Fractures from osteoporosis and low-bone density can be serious, causing pain and affecting your quality of life.
- 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% of Americans aged 50 or older; one-half of women and a quarter of men will fracture a bone.
- Osteoporosis is best diagnosed through a quick and painless specialized x-ray called the DXA, which measures bone density.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
- Noncontrollable Risks
- Female gender
- Small frame
- Advanced age
- Hormone levels
- Predisposing medical conditions
- Controllable Risks
- 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
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
- 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
- Proper posture
- How to improve your balance so as to reduce your risk of falling
- How to adjust your environment to protect your bone health
- 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-bearingand
- Examples of weight-bearing exercises
- Racquet sports
- Examples of resistance exercises
- Weight lifting
- Use of exercise bands
- Water resistance
- Gravity resistance (eg,push-ups, sustained yoga poses)