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  • SMARTPHYSIO

OSTEOPOROSIS and what can i do about it?





As it is Osteoporosis awareness month and as a physiotherapist highly interested in women's Health, I would like to take the time to write this article to raise awareness for this prevalent condition. 

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. It often develops slowly over several years and is typically diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a fracture. Understanding the nature of osteoporosis, its causes, symptoms, and risk factors is crucial for managing the condition effectively. Most importantly, understanding how physiotherapy can improve symptoms and enhance the quality of life for those affected.

Causes of Osteoporosis

Several factors contribute to the development of osteoporosis, including:

  • Aging: Bone density decreases naturally with age.

  • Hormonal Changes: Especially in women after menopause due to reduced estrogen levels.

  • Genetic Factors: A family history of osteoporosis can increase risk.

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of calcium and vitamin D.

  • Lifestyle Choices: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and sedentary lifestyle.

  • Medical Conditions and Medications: Certain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and medications like corticosteroids can contribute to bone loss.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis often progresses without obvious symptoms until a fracture occurs. However, some signs may include: 

  • Back Pain: Caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra.

  • Loss of Height Over Time: Due to compression fractures in the spine.

  • Stooped Posture: Known as kyphosis.

  • Bone Fractures: Especially in the hip, wrist, or spine from minor falls or even sudden movements

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy is integral in managing osteoporosis, focusing on improving mobility, reducing pain, and preventing fractures through strengthening and weight-bearing exercises. Your physiotherapist will be able to adjust exercises to meet your specific needs and gradually build up your strength and weight-bearing capabilities in a safe and controlled way. 

1. Exercise Programs

Exercise programs focusing on resisted strengthening and weight-bearing activities, such as step-ups, are a good way to improve muscle strength, improve bone density and gradually build up tolerance to impact and load. As a Physiotherapist I enjoy utilising Pilates to achieve all these goals in a safe structured way and I have many patients who have benefited from consistent targeted exercises.  

  • Weight-Bearing Exercises: Such as walking, dancing, or low-impact aerobics that help build bone strength.

  • Resistance Training: Using weights or resistance bands to strengthen muscles and bones.

  • Balance and Coordination Exercises: Such as tai chi or specific balance training to prevent falls.

2. Posture Training

Good posture helps reduce the risk of spinal fractures and improve overall spinal health. Physiotherapists teach posture techniques and exercises to maintain a healthy alignment of the spine.

3. Pain Management

Physiotherapists use various techniques to manage pain, including:

  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques to improve mobility and reduce pain.

  • Therapeutic Modalities: Such as ultrasound, heat, or cold therapy to relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Education and Advice: Teaching patients how to manage pain through lifestyle changes and activity modifications. Offering patients insigth into other supportive treatment options such as power plates, hylauronic acid, hormonal imbalances and lifestyle changes is also an important indiviaulised role of physiotherapists. 

4. Fall Prevention Strategies

Preventing falls is crucial for individuals with osteoporosis. Physiotherapists at SMART physiotherapy will assess your  home environment and provide strategies to minimise fall risks, such as:

  • Home Modifications: Suggesting changes like removing loose rugs, installing grab bars, and improving lighting.

  • Balance Training: Exercises to enhance stability and coordination.

  • Education on Safe Movement: Advising on how to move safely and avoid risky behaviors.

Conclusion

Osteoporosis is a manageable condition with the right approach. Physiotherapy offers a comprehensive, personalised strategy to improve bone health, enhance mobility, and prevent fractures, significantly improving the quality of life for those affected. By combining exercise, posture training, pain management, and fall prevention, physiotherapists play a crucial role in the holistic management of osteoporosis. If you or a loved one is dealing with osteoporosis, consider consulting a physiotherapist to explore the best treatment plan tailored to your needs.


By Caitlin Erlank Chartered Physiotherapist

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