Osteoporosis is a common disease that affects over 1 million Australians. It is known as a ‘silent disease’ with no symptoms until a fracture occurs.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, faster than the body can replace it. This results in the bones becoming weaker and more brittle resulting in a higher risk of fracture and injury. Any bones can have decreased bone density, but the most common sites affected are the hip, pelvis, spine and wrist.
Diagnosis of osteoporosis can be made via a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry test (DEXA). DEXA scans are non-invasive involving a machine passing over your hip or spine. Speak to your doctor regarding a referral, as those over 50 or anyone at a high risk of developing osteoporosis should be encouraged to obtain a scan.
There are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood of poor bone density. These include early menopause or a family history of osteoporosis. Fortunately, there are other risk factors that we can be influence more readily, such as:
- inadequate physical activity
- low calcium levels
- low vitamin D levels
- long-term medicine use (e.g. corticosteroids)
- excessive caffeine (more than three cups of tea or coffee a day)
- excessive alcohol intake.
Appropriate exercise is a crucial part of management and prevention of osteoporosis. Exercise for bone growth and strength should be regular and varied.Some ideas to incorporate into your program include brisk walking/jogging, balance exercises, Pilates or yoga, resistance training, or dancing. These exercises are weight bearing, which promote and encourage bone remodelling, bone mineral density and bone strength.
Additionally, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, consider adding balance exercises to your program. Feel free to read a previous article on better balance I have previously written.
To learn more about how you can improve or maintain your bone density, see your health professional. Physiotherapists are well equipped to tailor an appropriate weight-bearing exercise program.
Jason Lee APAM
Malvern East Physiotherapy
Jason is happy to answer any questions you may have, simply send an email to [email protected]