The "Silent Disease" - Osteoporosis
Our bones could be getting weaker without our knowing. We don’t feel it happening until it’s too late and a fracture occurs. This is why osteopenia and osteoporosis are considered “silent diseases.”
Osteopenia is when bones become weaker than normal due to our body breaking down bone faster than it creates it. The bones change in their structure, get thinner, and lose strength making them less able to withstand normal forces. Osteopenia can eventually progress to osteoporosis, which significantly increases the risk of fracture.
Osteoporosis is not just a female disease. It affects over 50% of Americans age 50 and older. One in two women and one in four men will break a bone in their lifetime as a result of osteoporosis. The best way to find out if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis is through a bone density test or DEXA scan.
+1 to –1 indicates normal bone density.
–1 to –2.5 indicates osteopenia.
–2.5 or lower means osteoporosis.
While there is no cure for osteopenia or osteoporosis, keeping your bones as healthy and strong as possible will help to preserve bone density and slow progression. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends five steps to improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis and broken bones.
1. Get the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D needed daily.
2. Perform regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
3. Quit smoking and don’t drink too much alcohol.
4. Get a bone density test for baseline when appropriate.
5. Take medication if/when it is right for you.
Physical therapy can play a key role in the prevention and treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis. A physical therapist can provide education on movements and activities to avoid to reduce the risk of fractures during daily activities. They can also provide specific weight-bearing and resistive exercises to build bone and decrease the impact of bone loss. Physical therapists can also provide balance retraining to improve overall function and reduce the risk of falls.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle at any age to help maintain our bone health. If you need help developing a safe and effective exercise program to improve your bone health contact our clinic and schedule an evaluation with a licensed physical therapist.
www.not.org - The National Osteoporosis Foundation