Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones weaken and become thin, fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures (breaks or cracks) than in normal bones. It develops slowly over several years and is often diagnosed when someone has a minor fall or sudden impact causing a bone fracture.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
There is no real cause for osteoporosis. Your bones are constantly being renewed in a process where old bone is broken down and new bone is produced to replace the old. This process occurs throughout our life and is usually in balance. However, due to a number of reasons, it can get out of balance and thinning of the bones can occur.
As we grow older our ability to lay down new bone lessens and if we become increasingly less active, we are increasing our risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis isn’t usually painful until a fracture occurs
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
A number of risk factors have been identified that can increase your inability to lay down dense bone, these include:
- Lack of Weight-Bearing Exercise.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis.
- Overactive thyroid or parathyroid glands.
- Coeliac disease and other chronic stomach conditions.
- Chronic liver or kidney disease.
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Some Cancers.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Diet lacking in calcium.
- Lack of sunlight exposure, which may cause vitamin D deficiency.
One of the most important factors is thought to be a lack of bone stress stimulating exercise. Exercise, especially weight-bearing and resistance exercises, help you to stimulate the production of new bone when you are younger and limits the loss of bone when we are older.
How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a special scan called a bone densitometry scan. This is usually done of the lumbar spine or the upper thigh bone, takes about 15 minutes and lets you know how dense the bone is compared to people of your age.
The treatment of osteoporosis involves reducing any of the factors contributing to poor bone health. Your doctor may advise you to embark on an exercise regime, review your medications or review current lifestyle factors that predispose you to osteoporosis. Your doctor may also advise you to increase your:
- Calcium intake via your diet or with supplements. Calcium is used to build and maintain bone health.
- Vitamin D intake via supplements or exposure to low levels of sunlight. Vitamin D is used to absorb calcium in the bone and to regulate calcium in the blood.
If you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, you should take steps to help keep your bones healthy.
This may include:
- Taking regular exercise
- Healthy eating (including foods rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Taking supplements (vitamin D & Calcium)
- Making lifestyle changes – give up smoking and reduce alcohol consumption
Mend Physio can help with your osteoporosis by giving you exercises and physio to help with the pain and strengthen your body.
Contact Mend Physio with any questions you may have.