Osteoporosis is a condition in which the amount of calcium and minerals in the bone decreases, leading to a reduction in bone density. As a result, bones become fragile and prone to fractures. A fracture can occur from a minor fall or simple actions like sneezing or bumping into furniture.
Treatment involves calcium supplements and prescription medication. Physical therapy plays an important role in maintaining quality of life for patients with osteoporosis, and for good reason. Muscles and tendons can be strengthened to provide a protective effect for bones. Although it cannot be cured, the rate of progression of osteoporosis can be decreased with physical therapy and medication.
Here are important factors to consider when living with osteoporosis:
Dietary measures: A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D provides the body with important minerals that form the building blocks of bones.
Weight bearing exercises: Always seek approval from a physician before starting any exercise program, especially if have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Simple exercises like walking and climbing up a flight of stairs are beneficial. A physical therapist will prescribe an exercise program tailored to the needs of the patient.
Muscle strengthening exercises: Supervised weight training helps improve muscle strength. A physical therapist may recommend the use of tools such as elastic bands, free weights and exercise equipment. Patients are also encouraged to use their own body weight to perform a number of exercises.
Core stabilization exercises: These exercises improve posture and balance. They help in the prevention of falls, injuries and fractures. Yoga and Pilates are examples of exercise used to improve posture and balance. All exercises should be done under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, don’t despair. Millions of individuals with this condition live healthy, productive lives. As long as you work with a physical therapist and take the right precautions, you can experience a renewed awareness of movement and function.
Physical therapy can improve balance, increase strength and reduce the incidence of falls. Ask our physical therapist’s for precautions about movement, lifting, and injury prevention. In the unfortunate event that you do experience a fracture, your physical therapist is uniquely qualified to help you in the recovery process. The use of assistive walking devices (cane, walker) may be suggested by your therapist.
Don’t allow the fear of injury to hold you back. Talk to our physical therapists and learn about the differences between safe and unsafe exercise. A new world of freedom and independence awaits you. We are here to help you improve your life with the benefits of physical therapy.
Dr. Daniel Skulavik, PT, DPT, OCS, is with Advanced Physical Therapy located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, Clinton.