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A Brief Guide To Osteoporosis - LifeForce Health Golden Grove

By Daniel Jordan - LifeForce Physiotherapist

Osteoporosis (OP) is a disease which causes our bones to become weak and brittle, exposing them to fractures with only minor bumps or falls. It is generally caused by a mineral deficiency, which occurs because the body loses minerals faster than it can replace them.
WHAT IS IT?

Osteoporosis (OP) is a disease which causes our bones to become weak and brittle, exposing them to fractures with only minor bumps or falls. It is generally caused by a mineral deficiency, which occurs because the body loses minerals faster than it can replace them. This reduction in bone mineral density causes the bones to undergo structural changes where they become thinner, weaker, lighter and less structurally stable.

 
WHO IS AT RISK?

Osteoporosis is called “The silent disease”; many people are unaware that they are affected by OP until they suffer a fracture and a undergo a subsequent bone scan. OP affects over 1,000,000 Australians, both men and women, although women are at a higher risk due to the hormonal changes that occur with menopause. As our population continues to age, bone fractures in the elderly are becoming more common, and OP is quickly becoming an issue that needs tackling (but gently, we wouldn’t want to break anything!)

Before you go off thinking “oh it’s only old people that get osteoporosis”, consider this: bone fractures in women start becoming dramatically more common past the age of 35, and men over the age of 50 are also more likely to have bone mineral density issues. Not so old, huh?

Besides age, there are a few other things that can put you at risk of developing OP:

  • Family history (bone density has a strong genetic link)
  • Reduced hormone levels (low oestrogen or testosterone)
  • Calcium and vitamin D levels
  • Bowel diseases with related malabsorption
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Cancer and cancer medications/treatments
  • Repeated corticosteroid use
  • Lifestyle factors such as diet, being over- or underweight, low physical activity levels, smoking, high alcohol intake

A combination of two or more of these risk factors increases the chances that your bone mineral density is not as good as it should be.

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Don’t lose hope! Other than making changes to lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet and alcohol intake, studies show a strong positive link between exercise and higher bone mineral density; specifically, resistance training (lifting weights), or other higher intensity exercise programs. Jogging, rowing, weight lifting, ball games, amongst other activities have all been shown to have a positive effect on bone mineral density. If the gym isn’t your scene, using some weights at home or in a class setting in a physiotherapy practice (like LifeForce’s unique FME classes – shameless plug) is a great way to get some high intensity exercise.

In addition, whole body vibration therapy has been shown to have a positive effect on not only muscle strength, flexibility and balance, but also on bone mineral density. Doing any weight bearing exercise while using a vibrotrainer (like the one in our exercise room – shameless plug no. 2), is a great component of an exercise program designed to strengthen your bones and prevent or reduce the effects of osteoporosis. Of course, as with any exercise program, staying safe is a key goal, so have a chat to your LifeForce physiotherapist to find out which exercises would be safe and effective for you.

Our FME classes include use of our vibrotrainer and run on Thursday and Saturday mornings, and we currently (as of August 2015) have some vacancies in our Thursday class. Call 82892800 to inquire and book your assessment.

References

Cole, Z., Dennison, E. and Cooper, C. (2008). Osteoporosis epidemiology update. Curr Rheumatol Rep, 10(2), pp.92-96.

Ernst, E (1994). Can exercise prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis?. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 28(1), pp.5-6.

Verschueren, S., Roelants, M., Delecluse, C., Swinnen, S., Vanderschueren, D. and Boonen, S. (2003). Effect of 6-Month Whole Body Vibration Training on Hip Density, Muscle Strength, and Postural Control in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. J Bone Miner Res, 19(3), pp.352-359.