Osteoporosis is a condition where bone composition is affected. Bone density is lowered by the loss of bone mineral. When the bones are less dense, they become more fragile which increases the likelihood of fractures. Smoking, genetics, low calcium and a sedentary lifestyle are key contributors to this condition. Osteoporosis affects more women than men (thought to be due to menopausal hormonal changes) and it is becoming increasingly common in the over 60s age group. Alarmingly, Australian hospitals currently admit individuals with osteoporotic fractures every eight minutes.
Spinal fractures are a common and serious consequence of osteoporosis. They occur because a loss of bone mass in the spinal vertebrae causes the vertebrae to crush. This may lead to a type of deformity known as kyphosis, in which the spine hunches forward to accommodate the bone loss. It can cause significant back pain.
Fractures resulting from falls are another risk for those with osteoporosis and sometimes after sustaining a fracture, people develop a fear of falling which may inhibit lifestyle and independence,
Many people do not realise they have osteoporosis until they have a bone density test, or begin to suffer from back ache; hence the reason it is sometimes called “the silent thief”.
The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable and even if it has set in, its progress can be stopped through dietary changes to increase calcium intake and through exercise based physiotherapy intervention,
A thorough evaluation of your physical condition and lifestyle is the first step in your physiotherapy programme. We will assess your strength, range of motion, posture, balance and functional capabilities before drawing up a customised plan for your needs. Weight bearing exercises such as walking and resistance exercises such as weight training form the core of this programme. Research has demonstrated that these types of exercises can maintain bone density, which maintains its strength and stimulates bone growth. Exercise can also increase muscle strength and improve balance which helps prevent falls.
Pain management is also being addressed through gentle passive joint mobilisation, soft tissue massage and heat to name a few treatment techniques we use.
Proper posture and balance are especially important to someone suffering from osteoporosis, as this can prevent falls which can lead to fractures. Therefore, we will work on these areas through exercise and gait training. We may also teach you how to safely get yourself in and out of bed, from standing to sitting and vice versa and getting in and out of a vehicle.
In an effort to restore or maximise your independence, we may also conduct a home visit. The purpose of this is to ensure that your surroundings are safe and free of hazards which can lead to falls.
By participating in physiotherapy and making certain lifestyle changes, you can prevent osteoporosis and if you have been diagnosed with it you can stop it in its tracks and achieve your goal of living a healthy life.
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