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Osteoporosis

Posted by: Terry On February 17, 2015 at 8:59 am
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle and can fracture more easily than normal bones. It occurs when not enough new bone is formed. The bones become weaker and so, there is a greater risk of bone fractures. Even minor falls can cause serious fractures.

Our bones are constantly being renewed through a natural process in which old bone is broken down and replaced with new bone. When we get older and also when our hormone levels change, our bones renew much more slowly and they become less dense. Osteoporosis itself does not cause pain and there are usually no signs and symptoms. However, when fractures occur due to osteoporosis, pain can happen. It can lead to changes in posture (bent spine), muscle weakness, loss of height and bone deformity of the spine. Pain can be from mild to severe and can be short term, easing as the fracture heals. Almost any bone can fracture due to osteoporosis, but the common areas are the hip, wrist, spine, Physiotherapy in Brisbane, Physiotherapist in Brisbane, Physiotherapists in Brisbane, Massage in Brisbane, Back pain, Physiotherapy in Brisbane, pelvis and upper arm. Without proper management, osteoporotic fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability, loss of independence and even premature death.

Generally, your bones are strongest in your 20’s and 30’s. 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men over 60 will have a fracture due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis develops less often in men than women because men have larger skeletons, bone loss starts later and progresses more slowly. In women, the hormonal changes occur at menopause between the ages of 45 ~ 55, but it may occur earlier in some women. After menopause, a woman’s body stops producing the sex hormone, oestrogen. When oestrogen levels fall rapidly, loss of calcium from bone increases significantly.

The main goal of treatment for osteoporosis is preventing further bone loss and the development of fractures. Preventing the first fracture is an important goal. However, treatments are available and are very effective in reducing the risk of subsequent fractures. If you have noticed a loss of height, changing in posture or back pain, you should talk to your doctor. A bone mineral density test can help with the diagnosis of osteoporosis. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and even have had fractures, it is never too late to begin treatment. Treatment is aimed at stopping further bone loss and some of the newer generations of medications can even give back some bone strength. Your doctor may prescribe one of the medications to assist in increasing bone density and reducing the turnover of bone.

Preventing osteoporosis and treating osteoporosis require eating a healthy diet to ensure adequate calcium and dietary vitamin D intake. Lifestyle changes such as stop smoking, and reducing alcohol and coffee intake, are needed as well. Regular physical activity on a long term basis has an important role in maintaining healthy bones. Exercise can maintain and increase bone strength by increasing bone mass or by slowing age related bone loss. Muscle strength is also increased with exercise, which is important for supporting the joints and preventing falls. There are two types of exercises that are beneficial to bone health. One is weight bearing exercise which means any exercise that is done while you are on your feet. Examples are jogging, walking and dancing. The other one is resistance exercises which simply mean lifting weights with your arms or legs. Your physiotherapist can assess the best type of exercise for you. The amount and type of exercise will vary depending on your age and bone health, Generally, most people should aim to exercise for 30~40 minutes, four to six times each week. Exercise does not have to be exhausting, but it should be regular. You should not have pain while exercising. If you do, stop and talk to your doctor or physiotherapist.

A minor fall or injury can lead to a fracture in people with osteoporosis. Therefore, preventing falls is very important. Falls are more likely in people with poor leg muscle strength, poor balance or poor eye sight. Regular physical activity, including exercises for balance, strength and posture can be recommended by your physiotherapist. Poor balance can occur because of weak muscles, changes in blood pressure or heart rate, medications, ear problems and even poor diets. If you have any dizziness or light headedness, especially after taking any medications, then let your doctor know. Using a walking aid if needed is good for balance. Considering installation of handrails by stairs, baths or toilets is also critical for fall prevention. Eyesight can deteriorate with age. Therefore, good lighting at home is important to ensure you can see where you are going at all times. If you wear glasses, you make sure you use them as directed and be careful when going up and down the stair if you wear bifocals. Generally, it is good to have your eyes tested yearly by an optometrist.

The process of bone building is slow. It starts to happen as soon as you start regular exercise. But, it takes at least six months to be able to measure effects. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact your physiotherapist.

If you have any question, please contact your physiotherapist.

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