This blog is focusing on one of the most common health problems among my older female clients/patients, Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in women over 50 in the US. A loss of bone density occurs when the body doesn’t form enough new bone or reabsorbs too much old bone or both. This is caused by a lack of calcium and phosphate, two minerals vital to bone formation. Other causes include:
- chronic rheumatoid arthritis
- corticosteroid use
- bed confinement
- Vitamin D deficiency
- alcohol abuse and more
Symptoms include bone pain, fractures without or little impact/trauma, stooped posture (hyper kyphosis) and significant loss in height (6 inches or more).
Bone density loss is commonly diagnosed by performing a bone density test. The dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans are comparing the patients levels with those of a healthy young woman (T Score) and with those of the patient’s peers (Z Score). Negative T-Scores indicate the loss of bone mass with values from -1.0 to -2.5 being diagnosed as Osteopenia (milder form) and values of -2.5 and lower being considered Osteoporosis.
A treatment plan is trying to stop further bone density loss, increase bone density and manage the associated pain. The patient is typically using calcium and vitamin D supplements and medications such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, and Reclast that are designed to increase bone density. In addition patients with low bone densities need to be educated on the importance of impact exercising and be put on an appropriate exercise program
Why is weight bearing and loaded exercising important? Bone is considered a bradytrophic tissue, meaning it has very little or no direct blood supply. It absorbs nutrition like a sponge absorbs water. You squeeze the sponge for maximum absorption. Compressing the bone through weight bearing- and impact exercises accomplishes the same. Studies performed among women with Osteoporosis and Osteopenia showed significant better outcomes in those that were involved in exercise programs involving weight bearing exercises and loading stresses. It needs to be mentioned though that patients with severe Osteoporosis are at a very high risk for hip, wrist and vertebra fractures. High impact exercises have to be avoided at this stage. Exercising under the supervision of an experienced trainer or Physical Therapist is highly recommended.
Exercises I recommend to my patients include but are not limited to:
- Jumps (milder stages)
- Hip Abduction (short lever in severe cases)
- modified Push-Ups
- Supine Posterior Pelvic Tilts
- Supine Bridging etc.
I hope this blog is offering some insights into the problem of bone density loss and the importance of exercise to treat this disease. As always, please feel free to contact me with questions and comments. Please like BACK IN FORM on Facebook (www.facebook.com/backinform) and follow our tweet on Twitter.