It’s only natural to have questions, concerns and to wonder, how exactly you can continue to live a happy and healthy lifestyle after an osteoporosis diagnosis. Read on to learn about potential risks and how you can manage your new diagnosis to prevent fractures.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, known as the “silent thief”, is a disease characterized by an asymptomatic decrease in bone mass. Bones become thin and porous, reducing their strength and leading to an increased risk of fractures. Both women and men can be affected by this disease and it can strike at any age. By our mid-30s both women and men begin to loose bone mass, and the rate of loss increases for women after menopause. Although there is no single cause for osteoporosis there are certain risk factors including: age, sex, a loss of height greater than 2cm (indicating potential degenerative changes in your spine) a history of a bone fracture from a fall while at standing height after the age of 40 or a family history of the disease.
There is also a prevalence of secondary osteoporosis. This is characterized by a loss of bone mass occurring as a result of another disease or treatment that affects bone health. Often certain medications have been linked to a loss in bone mass, for example, synthetic glucocorticoids, breast and prostate cancer drugs, heart burn drugs and blood pressure drugs to name a few. Certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, malabsorption syndromes and sex hormone deficiencies have also been linked to bone deterioration.
What are the Risks if I have been Diagnosed with Osteoporosis?
According to Osteoporosis Canada fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. As you can imagine this is a huge burden on the Canadian Healthcare system. In 2010 over 2.3 billion Canadian healthcare dollars were spent to treat osteoporotic fractures. Bones most at risk for osteoporotic fractures include the wrist, hip and spine. Without proper intervention your bones could become more brittle, increasing your risk for fracture.
What can you do to Manage your Osteoporosis and Prevent Fractures?
Once diagnosed with osteoporosis your doctor will be able to provide you with guidance on both your nutrition and whether you are a candidate for drug treatments aimed to reduce fractures. You have likely heard how important calcium and vitamin D are for bone health. A well balanced diet is a powerful tool to fight the further degeneration of your bones. Speak with your family physician or a dietician to ensure your diet is rich in these essential nutrients to maintain your bone health.
We all know that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but did you know it can also be an essential part of building and maintaining your bone health? To pursue a safe exercise program be sure to review with your physician or a Bonefit certified Physiotherapist your risk of fracture. From there a Bonefit Physiotherapist can help you design an exercise program tailored to your needs. Bonefit Physiotherapists are therapists who have been certified in safe screening and exercise preparation for osteoporotic patients. Weight bearing exercises to improve bone strength, strength training to improve posture and mobility, as well as balance training to reduce the risk of falls are all key elements in an exercise program tailored to improve your bone health!
Contact us if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and would like myself or any of our other physiotherapists to provide more education on the disease and an exercise program tailored to reduce your risk of fracture and improve your bone health.
Written By: Tiffaney Marlow – Registered Physiotherapist