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Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease

When bones start to go 'soft', it's time to face the hard truth.

An insidious and silent disease, osteoporosis doesn’t manifest in its early stages. It has no signs or symptoms until a serious injury or fracture occurs.

fotolia_12741873_xs_02Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose calcium and become “porous”. This makes the bone more susceptible to breakage. From a physiological point of view, the bone begins to break down quickly and does not regenerate at a sufficient pace. If you smoke cigarettes and are over 50 years old, have a diet low in calcium, or are a woman with early menopause, your risk of osteoporosis increases.

Why is it called silent?

The physical manifestations of osteoporosis are not always evident. Sometimes, you may experience a dull bone or muscle pain in the low back or neck, which escalates to sharp, nagging pain lasting for months. As it progresses, bones become weaker, and your risk for a fracture increases. Bones in the wrist, hip, and spine are most commonly fractured in individuals with this disease.

The Hard Truth ..

  • osteoporosis_fractureOsteoporosis is a public health concern and affects more than 200 million individuals worldwide.
  • Think prevention: build strong bones from childhood. Preventive measures for kids can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
  • 80% of patients with osteoporosis are women.  20% are men.
  • 1 out of every 2 women and 1 in 4 men over age 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis can strike at any age. But, the older you are, the greater your risks.Those who are sedentary or on bed rest for a prolonged period of time have higher risks.
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol excessively limits calcium absorption, which increases your risk for osteoporosis.

An Ounce Of Prevention

fotolia_9811647_xs_01The key to keeping your bones healthy is: Eat right, exercise, quit smoking and don’t drink alcohol excessively.

Nutrition is important: Proper intake of calcium and vitamin D is important to maintain bone strength.

The case for exercise:

Exercise not only helps build muscle and endurance, it also builds and maintains bone density.

Two types of exercise for osteoporosis are:

  • Weight-bearing. These include walking, dancing and stair climbing depending on age and physical condition. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity 5 times /week.
  • Resistance (this includes lifting weights). This has shown to increase bone mass and reduce risk of fractures.

As an individual grows older, concerns about performing the right types of exercise grow, especially if you already have osteoporosis, or at risk for it. If you’ve never been physically active, or have other concerns, you can choose from a range of safe exercise options prescribed by your therapist.

Guidelines for safe exercise:

  • Talk to your physician and consult your therapist before beginning any exercise program. This is especially important if you know you have bone loss or osteoporosis.
  • Avoid high-impact exercises (like running and jumping)- they place a great deal of stress on your spine, and may even lead to fractures in weakened bones.
  • If you already have osteoporosis, avoid exercises that involve bending and twisting at the waist. These motions can put brittle bones at risk.

Call us before choosing any of these activities to make sure you have an exercise plan that’s safe and effective for your bone health. Depending on your needs, we can create a program that combines postural strengthening, balance training and bone strengthening to provide you with an ideal, customized program. We know what it takes to build strong, healthy bones for individuals of all ages and look forward to working with you.

It's time for a solid decision to strengthen and shape your bones. Call or email us today for more information.