Osteoporosis is a bone diseases characterized by a loss of bone mass, leading to skeletal fragility and then to fractures. One of two women and one of eight men will be diagnosed with osteoporosis. It is called a “silent disease” because you cannot feel or see your bones becoming thinner over time. Unfortunately, many people are diagnosed with osteoporosis only after a painful fracture has occurred. All older adults are at risk but certain individuals have factors that can increase their chance of developing the disease. Persons at risk include:
- Those with a family history of osteoporosis, including fractures in either the father or mother
- Those who do not exercise regularly
- Women who have early menopause
- Those who do not get enough calcium and vitamin D
- In addition to these risks, certain diseases and medications can lead to osteoporosis.
One should first see their physician for a thorough work-up including a bone density scan. Physical therapy can be an important component of a comprehensive program in deterring bone loss. Weight-bearing and resistance exercises can assist in preventing further bone loss.
Following a comprehensive evaluation in which posture, flexibility, balance, and strength are assessed, an individualized treatment program is developed. Instruction in correct body mechanics and postures for performing activities of daily living are an integral part of the physical therapy program for osteoporosis management.