Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that causes a thinning and weakening of the bones, and potentially increasing the risk fractures. Women tend to be at the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis, though It can affect people of any age and gender. Reduced bone strength is the cause of 1.5 million fractures per year in the United States. Hip fractures alone result in 300,000 hospitalizations. When osteoporosis is diagnosed early enough, important steps can be taken to reduce bone loss and the risk of fractures.
Osteoporosis has several potential origins which are both controllable and uncontrollable.
Noncontrollable Risks • Female gender • Small frame • Advanced age • Hormone levels • Heredity • Predisposing medical conditions
Controllable Risks • Lack of weight-bearing exercise • Cigarette smoking • Excessive alcohol intake • Inactive lifestyle • Excessive caffeine intake • Low weight • Calcium-poor diet • Low vitamin D levels
There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss related to osteoporosis. However, once bones have been affected, you may have signs and symptoms that include:
- A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture
The most important time to build bone strength is in our 40’s and 50’s, not after we notice the symptoms of osteoporosis. Your primary care physician may prescribe medication to aid in bone strength. The most widely prescribed osteoporosis medications are bisphosphonates. Hormone therapies may also be suggested.
Your physical therapist will develop a treatment program based on your individual needs that helps improve your overall bone health, keep your bones healthy, and help you avoid fractures in the future.
Healthy bone is built and maintained through a healthy lifestyle. Your physical therapist will teach specific exercises to meet your particular needs.