Osteoporosis occurs when bones become weak and brittle. If left unchecked, it can lead to fracture. Any bone can be affected. Fractures of special concern are of the hip, spine, and wrist.
Throughout life, old bone is removed and new bone is added to the skeleton. After age 30, more bone is lost than replaced. If too much bone loss occurs, this may lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is more likely to occur if full bone mass was not achieved during the bone-building years.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of developing osteoporosis include:
History of falls
Family history of osteoporosis
Certain conditions, such as:
Amenorrhea (no menstrual periods)
Type 2 diabetes
Use of certain medications, such as antidepressants, long-term Heparin, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, or
Low hormone levels (low estrogen levels in women, low testosterone levels in men)
Certain restrictive diets that may result in a deficit of calcium or vitamin D
Too little sunlight (the effect of sun on the skin is a primary source of vitamin D)
Certain cancers, including lymphoma and multiple myeloma
In most cases, people with osteoporosis remain symptom-free until there is a fracture. In those that do have symptoms, osteoporosis may cause:
Severe back pain with fracture of the vertebrae, wrists, hips, or other bones
Loss of height with stooped posture, a condition called kyphosis
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Osteoporosis can be seen with bone mineral density (BMD) tests of the hip, spine, wrist, or other site. These may include:
Central (preferred) or peripheral dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
Quantitative ultrasound (QUS)
Central or peripheral quantitative CT scan (QCT)
In the case of osteoporosis, exercise is believed to increase bone mineral density and muscle strength, potentially also increasing
coordination and balance. The overall effect is to decrease the risk of fracture and subsequent disability.
A physical therapist will develop an individual exercise program for combating osteoporosis. These programs vary in their level of difficulty and
dedication. You will decide, in conjunction with the therapist, which is most appropriate for you. Remember, your persistence in performing
the exercise program regularly as prescribed is imperative: no exercise program will help without your dedication.
AN EVALUATION MAY INCLUDE
Medical & exercise history
Strength & flexibility testing
Assessment of functional limitations
Posture & gait assessment
PHYSICAL THERAPY GOALS MAY INCLUDE
Individualized exercise program
Correction & education in good posture & body mechanics
Knowledge of risk factors
Instruction in activities of daily living
Balance & gait training if needed
Building strong bones throughout your early years is the best defense against osteoporosis. Getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and regular
exercise can keep bones strong throughout life. To help reduce your chance of developing osteoporosis, take these steps:
Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
Perform weight-bearing exercise
Live a healthy lifestyle (no smoking, drink alcohol only in moderation)
If you are a post-menopausal woman at high risk for bone fractures, medications may be appropriate to prevent osteoporosis
This content was created using EBSCO's Health Library
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center
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