Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment
You Don’t Have to Suffer from Weak, Brittle Bones
As life expectancy has increased, so has our geriatric population. As the body ages, one of the many challenges that occur is a decline in bone density. With age, bones undergo degeneration and become brittle and weaker. This condition is what we call “osteoporosis“, and we at Root Cause Physical Therapy Center have been seeing these cases and helping them achieve success.
It occurs in approximately 80% of women and in a slightly lesser percentage in men. In certain individuals, it may occur much faster—and at a younger age due to certain medications prescribed (such as steroids) or diseases (such as gluten intolerance) within the body.
There is a multitude of causes of osteoporosis including:
• hormonal imbalance
• poor mineral levels
• lack of essential vitamins
• lack of exercises
• and more…
As the bones get weaker and more brittle, the attached muscles get weaker too. This in turn causes problems with walking, balance, and endurance. People with osteoporosis are highly prone to falls which causes fractures or dislocations. Some of the common areas for fractures are wrists, hands, toes, back, and hip. In certain cases where the bone has become very weak, they can fracture even with the slightest pressure.
I have noticed that with repeated falls or missteps, these individuals become fearful of activity and walking. It becomes a vicious cycle of inactivity causing more bone weakness, muscle weakness, and pain because the activity has become something to be feared and avoided.
Physical therapy becomes very important in preventing this cycle from persisting or even occurring. As osteoporosis continues to be one of the biggest contributors to morbidity (incidence of disease) in the US and other countries, there are many researchers working round the clock to combat and understand the problems of osteoporosis. They are trying to discover effective methods of preventing the problem. Some of the latest research points towards intensive physical therapy as a potential solution.
How to Manage (or Prevent) Osteoporosis
1) Routine bone density studies after the age of 50 are a must. This is just a type of imaging, not invasive.
2) If the tests come out even mildly positive (mild osteoporosis is called “osteopenia”), I recommend immediately beginning a physical therapy program. Many patients have come to me here at Root Cause for a physical therapy program when their condition has already progressed to the point of falls and fractures. Often these patients have been told by their doctor to mildly exercise and take various supplementation (often only increased calcium—a mistake!).
Unfortunately, without strict guidelines for exercises, most people think that walking around the block is adequate enough to combat the problem while they swallow some extra calcium pills. It is NOT!
3) It’s important to be seen and treated by a physical therapist who is a specialist. Not all physical therapists are well trained in the specific protocols needed for osteoporosis. I am happy to report that as an Orthopedic Certified Specialist, I am such a specialist.
4) The physical therapy evaluation should be very comprehensive. It will check the following:
• flexibility of the joints
• current muscle strength
• mechanics of walking, sitting—and more
After the evaluation, the physical therapist will compile a specific, individualized exercise and strengthening routine. Periodic re-evaluations are a must. This will allow us to gauge gains and improvements.
5) The physical therapy routine should incorporate the following:
• postural corrections and exercises
• strength training with weights and other resistance aids
• balance exercises
• flexibility exercises
Sometimes gait training and training on body mechanics during lifting and working are also needed.
6) Proper footwear and other aids may be needed and recommended by the physical therapist. This will encourage proper weight-bearing and prevent pain.
7) Clinical nutrition, too, plays a big role in assisting to improve osteoporosis. Diagnosing food sensitivities, hormonal imbalance, digestive imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies should all be part of a comprehensive program. That’s why I like the fact that we work together with medical doctors, naturopaths, and clinical nutritionists here at Root Cause Medical Clinic. It’s a comprehensive approach that allows us to get to the root cause of the pain and longterm success with patients.
How Does Exercise Create Stronger Bones?
All the above specific routines will increase the muscle strength and increase the muscle pull on the bones. That in turn will cause more calcium deposits into the bones, making them stronger. It also makes postural muscles stronger, thus preventing spinal fractures and other postural anomalies such as stooping. The balance exercises help to prevent falls and restore confidence.
In my two decades of practice, I have seen patients make the most gains when they have been very diligent with a personalized physical therapy routine. There is a great deal of information available on exercises for osteoporosis, but everyone’s body is different. What may work for Joe may not work for Jill, so it’s very important that proper advice is sought from a physical therapist who is a specialist in this area. Taking such steps will ensure that proper gains are made so as to help prevent the premature morbidities associated with osteoporosis.
Do you need help with your health?
We have the diagnostic and testing tools, the clinical experience, and a different medical approach to discovering the root cause of why you have the symptoms that are bothering you. As long as you are ready to make some dietary and lifestyle changes, we can help you. We will "hold your hand" through the changes, step by step, to make each step an easy one. We are located in Clearwater, FL, at 1000 S Ft Harrison, at the corner of Ft. Harrison Ave. and Magnolia St. There is plenty of parking space directly accessible from Ft Harrison. If it is not convenient for you to come to Root Cause Medical Clinic, we offer telehealth/telemedicine consultations to residents of certain states. Call us for details.
Dr. Rupa Chakravarty DPT, OCS
Director of Physical Therapy at Root Cause Medical
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Certified Specialist
Dr. Chakravarty has numerous certifications for different techniques in Physical Therapy practice. She employs an extensive array of manual as well as exercise techniques to manage her patients’ symptoms during their course of therapy.