Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to weaken and become thin and fragile. The process takes place over a period of decades, robbing bones of needed calcium and strength. One out of every two women and one out of every eight men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetimes. Recovery from osteoporosis-related fractures can be long and complex, with the potential for life-threatening complications. Fortunately, by taking key steps now you can significantly decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Those who are at risk include:
- Women, especially those past menopause, or those who go through menopause early
- People with thin or small frames, or with a weight under 127 lbs.
- People who don’t consume many dairy products or calcium-rich foods
- People who don’t exercise regularly, or at all
- Men with low testosterone
- People who smoke tobacco
- People on certain medications that can cause bone loss
- People who drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day
- People with family histories of osteoporosis
The bone loss caused by osteoporosis usually occurs without any symptoms; this is why osteoporosis is called the “silent disease.” People often learn they have osteoporosis after a minor fall or other incident that causes a bone fracture. Even the simple act of bending, lifting or jumping can cause an osteoporosis-related fracture. These fractures, often occurring in the spine, can be a cause of significant back pain.
If you suspect you may have osteoporosis or are at risk for this disease, you should consult your primary care physician. A bone mineral density test may be needed to determine whether you have osteoporosis.
While a diagnosis of osteoporosis usually doesn’t occur until after the age of 50, you can take important steps now as a 20, 30 or even 40 year-old, which can help you increase the strength and density of your bones. Reliant Medical Group’s Physical Therapy professionals will show you how regular exercise and nutritional supplements can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life. If needed, Physical Therapy may refer patients to a Reliant Medical Group Nutrition Education Specialist for a consultation.
Your initial visit to Physical Therapy will consist of:
- A comprehensive evaluation looking at range of motion, strength, flexibility, balance and functional activity level
- A safety checklist for your home
- Information regarding dietary guidelines and recommended daily allowances for calcium and vitamin D
- Education to gain an understanding of osteoporosis and osteopenia (low bone mineral density), and how best to slow their progression
- Recommendations and instructions on a specific home exercise program with emphasis on resistance training
Don’t let osteoporosis be a limiting factor in doing the things in life that you enjoy. Ask your doctor for a Physical Therapy referral to learn all that you can about how to effectively prevent this “silent disease.”