Does Physical Therapy For Osteoporosis Work?
The short answer is yes. While there isn't a universal cure for osteoporosis, there are enough treatment options to create customized a plan for each person and their symptoms. If osteoporosis is severe and debilitating, medications or hormone therapies may need to be used to provide the fastest and strongest relief. But because of the side effects of many of these medications, taking that route first may not sound ideal.
What exactly is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that strikes as we age, normally showing no detectable symptoms until a bone suddenly fractures or breaks. Our bones lose density as we age, no longer capable of rebuilding themselves as quickly as our bodies siphon them to obtain nutrients and minerals.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones can no longer keep up with the give-and-take cycle. Bones become weak and brittle, with large pockets of air in their spongey interiors. This creates a high likelihood of breaks and fractures--even a sneeze could be enough to cause a break.
Treatment options for osteoporosis
Many doctors will recommend the following as treatment options:
A specialized Yoga and Pilates program with an instructor with the right credentials
Prescriptions to improve the calcium uptake and deposit in the bones
Therapy to replace hormones
Calcium supplements and vitamin D
Selective estrogen receptor modulator
Physiotherapy program of care for osteoporosis
One of the best ways to treat osteoporosis is with weight-bearing exercises, which a physiotherapist will be able to teach and demonstrate. Strengthening your body and bones is one of the most effective and long-lasting treatment options, and with the help of a physiotherapist, finding beneficial and painless exercises is an easy task. A physiotherapist will focus on strength training, and if posture and tension are an issue, they will use stretching and other flexibility-focused exercises to relieve pain and tension.
Physical Therapy sessions can include the following:=
Weight-bearing exercises to improve strength and increase loading on tall bones
Strength training using light weights and minimal resistance exercises for improved muscle strength
Balance and falls prevention program
Exercises to improve and correct posture. This minimizes compression in the spine and vertebrae
Build a strong foundation with core stability exercises
Symptoms Of Osteoporosis
Unprecedented Breaks or Fractures
One of the first symptoms noticed by those suffering from osteoporosis is a sudden, unprecedented break or fracture. These commonly occur in the hips, wrists, and spine. These injuries are notable because of how unlikely they are to cause injury, which typically signals the bone disease osteoporosis.
Small fractures in the back and neck can cause a stoop in the upper back, or a stoop may be caused by the spine's inability to stay straight in its weakened state. Stooping may be unconsciously done to relieve pain and pressure in the back, but over time stooping can lead to breathing issues and greater pain in the spine and neck.
Pain in the spine, specifically the lower back, without due cause may indicate fractures caused by weakened vertebrae. These fractures can cause a collapse in the vertebrae, which may pinch spinal nerves and create even greater pain.
Loss of Height
Shrinking more than an inch is a symptom of osteoporosis lowering your bone density and size. Around the age of 30, our bodies begin to take more from our bones than can be produced, meaning slight changes in height will occur over time. A large loss of height indicates a regenerative rate that is no longer natural or healthy. Height loss can also coincide with a stooped posture, making the true amount of height lost hard to discern.
Post-menopause women are at risk for osteoporosis because of the lower amount of sex hormones in their bodies. Though this is the case for men too, losing high amounts of testosterone is less probable than high estrogen loss in women. This sudden hormone loss is why older women have such a high risk for contracting osteoporosis. Women have a 50% chance for an osteoporosis-related fracture compared to men who have a 25% likelihood.
The general age that signifies a growing risk for osteoporosis is fifty. At this point in our lives, bones begin to regenerate much slower than they did a decade before, leading to brittleness and breaks.
Smaller bones build smaller frames, making a person especially susceptible to osteoporosis and its symptoms. People carrying less body weight bear a similar risk, as they naturally exercise their bones less than those who bear more body weight.
Bones will naturally lose strength if they aren't trained and used. Excessive inactivity can lead to cases of osteoporosis or cause it sooner in a person's life than would normally be expected. In particular, a lack of weight-bearing exercises can be very detrimental.
Poor Eating Habits
Conditions like anorexia and bulimia may remove the vital nutrients needed for bone health from a person's diet, leaving them susceptible to osteoporosis. A diet lacking in vitamin D and calcium is most detrimental to bone health.