Normal bone is constantly being built and broken down. When not enough bone is built, or too much is broken down, osteoporosis results. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become thin and brittle. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.
Any bone can be affected, but of special concern are fractures of the hip and spine. Approximately 300,000 hip fractures – three times more common in women than men – occur annually because of bone thinning. A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability, or even death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. One third of all women over 50 years old will have broken bones in the spine due to osteoporosis.
Several factors that you cannot control place you at increased risk for osteoporosis:
- Family history – Blood relative(s) with disease
- Age – Older adults have increased risk
- Gender – Women are at greater risk than men
- Race – Asians and Caucasians have an increased risk
Diet and exercise are within your control and can be helpful.
Assess Your Risk:
Download and Complete this osteoporosis questionnaire from the National Osteoporosis Foundation to determine your risk for developing osteoporosis.
How Physical Therapy Can Help:
A physical therapist can evaluate your specific problem and help you manage the debilitating effects of osteoporosis:
A suggested program may include:
- Techniques to stretch or relax tight muscles
- Exercises to strengthen leg, hip, and back muscles to improve posture, balance, and walking ability
- Electrical stimulation, TENS, moist heat, massage or cold for back pain relief
- Fitting of a back brace or orthotic if needed
- Individualized home exercise program to meet your needs, including weight-bearing and resistive exercise
- Instruction on energy saving and safe ways to move, lift, and perform other activities of daily living
- Education on risk factors and suggestions to reduce risk of falls
- Assisting you in developing a program for lifelong fitness