What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means porous bones. Bone continues to grow until our mid-thirties but as we age, we lose bone mass and our bones can become more brittle, meaning they can fracture or break more easily.
The Irish Osteoporosis Society estimates that 300,000 people in Ireland have osteoporosis. 1 in 2 women over 50 and 1 in 4 men over 50 will develop an osteoporosis related fracture.
Peak bone mass occurs in our late teens and continues into our twenties; therefore, it is vital during these years to optimise bone health through adequate calorie consumption, weight bearing exercise, and consumption of vitamin D and calcium.
As our bone density or strength decreases, our bone moves from healthy to osteopenic to osteoporotic.
Osteopenia is the early stage of osteoporosis, meaning there is a bigger risk of developing a fracture. A diagnosis of osteopenia is a warning sign to start looking after your bone health. Physiotherapy can play a vital role in preventing osteopenia developing into osteoporosis.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Usually, a person will not know that they have osteoporosis until they have fallen and fractured a bone. If you have sustained a “low-trauma fracture”, i.e. breaking a bone from from tripping or falling from standing height, this may mean you have osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Your GP may refer you for a DEXA scan to measure your bone mineral density (or bone strength). The result of this scan shows if you do or do not have osteoporosis / osteopenia.
The FRAX tool can be used to assess one’s risk of fractures. Click here to access the tool:
Risk factors for developing osteoporosis:
- Females (post-menopausal)
- People over 40
- Sedentary lifestyle (little or no exercise)
- Low calcium intake
- Thyroid disease (overproduction of the thyroxine hormone may cause bone loss)
- Family history of osteopenia / osteoporosis
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- History of steroid medications use
How can physiotherapy help?
Exercise plays an important role in bone health. Aerobic and resistance exercise has been proven to improve bone density in people with osteopenia and osteoporosis, as well as playing a vital role in falls prevention. Physiotherapists work with individuals with osteoporosis to enable them to begin exercising safely and confidently, thus helping reduce further falls and fractures. It is never too late to start!
At Somerton Physiotherapy, Megan O’Dowd MISCP works with people with Osteoporosis. To book an appointment with Megan, book online using the “Book Now” button below, email us on [email protected] , or call us on 019069566.