What is osteoporosis?
- Its a progressive disease
- It is characterized by low bone calcium content
- It changes bone architecture
- It makes bones brittle and more fragile
- It increases your risk of breaking a bone
- Normal bone is filled with calcium, osteoporotic bone is “empty”
Three Osteoporosis Fracture facts
- The most common osteoporotic fractures occur in the hip, wrist or upper back
- One in three women over the age of 50 are affected by osteoporosis
- One in five men over the age of 50 are affected by osteoporosis
The risky bone business: who is at risk?
- You reach your peak bone mass by the age of 30, therefore your nutrition and health in your youth is important
- Malnutrution can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis
- Alcohol abuse and smoking increases your risk.
- Lack of exercises and extended bedrest can decrease bone density
- Diabetics and thyroidproblems put you at risk of developing osteoporosis
- Some medications have a negative effect on bone density
Silence of the limbs: a silent disease
- The first sign of osteoporosis is usually a fracture
- Fractures can occur long after disease has started
- Osteoporosis does not always cause pain
- It never says a word untill its too late.
Dangers of osteoporosis: fatal falls
Up to 20 percent of patients that break a hip could die within one year of the fracture due to complications associated with fractures.
How to manage osteoporosis
- Get the full team on your side: your doctor, dietician, physiotherapist and occupational therapist can assist you to improve your health and quality of life
- Managing osteoporosis will prevent side effects and help you to have a full, active life
- Your doctor will do the necessary blood tests and prescribe the medication to help slow done bone breakdown
- Bone density scans can be used to track the disease
- Patients need guidance on their diet and calcium intake to obtain healthy levels of calsium. Your dietician is the perfect team member to advise on food to feed your bones
Osteoporosis cannot be cured, but your medical team can help you manage it.
Physiotherapy:Preventing falls, preventing fractures
- Physical therapists can evaluate your fall risk
- Evaluating your walking pattern and gait will help your physio to prescribe the correct exercises.
- Exercises can make you stronger when weights and elastic bands are used
- Physiotherapists are trained to give education on osteoporosis
- Your physio can help you implement fall prevention strategies suitable to your environment
- Bone stress from exercise prevents loss of bone density
Exercise for osteoporosis?
Weight bearing exercises are the best: Any safe exercise that you do while standing up, like walking or climbing stairs. Three sessions of weight bearing exercises per week is ideal, and you should try exercising for 30 minutes.
In my following articles I will elaborate on exercise, fall prevention and screening for osteoporosis.
Would you like to read more about the National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa?