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Role of physiotherapy in osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a commonly uncommon silent killer as it occurs slowly with time and without warning. It is a bone disease which leads to reduction in the bone mass making the bones more fragile and vulnerable to fractures. It becomes more common with increasing age. Also, women are at higher risk of osteoporosis than men.

Whenever you hear about osteoporosis, a number of questions must be flashing through your mind. Here, I am providing solutions to some of your common questions.

What are the common causes of osteoporosis?

There can be many causes of osteoporosis. One of the causes is menopause in females as the lower level of estrogen after menopause increases bone density loss. It can also occur due to some diseases like hyperthyroidism, kidney diseases and alcoholism. Certain medications like anti-seizure medicines, Chemotherapy and glucocorticoids also increase the rate of bone loss.

What are the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis?

Although, osteoporosis itself has no symptoms but some outward signs like loss of height and stooped posture may be present. Also, fragility fractures are typically seen in cases of osteoporosis.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Dual- energy X- ray absorptiometry (DEXA scan) is the gold standard method for diagnosing osteoporosis. Also, Conventional radiographs helps in detecting the reduced bone mass and the possible fractures.

How can it be prevented?

Lifestyle modification like cessation of smoking and alcohol intake helps in preventing osteoporosis. Also, an optimal intake of calcium and vitamin D is recommended. Physical exercises also help in maintaining bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures.

How can we manage osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can be managed by medications and lifestyle modification. Medications like Bisphosphonates are used to prevent fragility fractures. However, these should be taken only when recommended by your physician. Lifestyle modification like cessation of smoking and reduced alcohol consumption plays an important role. The inclusion of physical exercise is of the utmost importance in the management of osteoporosis. Fight with your osteoporosis in the gym under the supervision of your physiotherapist.

How does exercise help in improving bone strength?

Bone is a tissue that reacts to the loads and the forces applied to it by becoming stronger. When load above a normal level is applied during exercise, it leads to an increase in bone density.

What types of exercises are recommended for osteoporosis?

Weight-bearing and resistance exercises are generally recommended for osteoporosis. These exercises put stress on bones and muscles making them stronger. Weight-bearing exercises may include brisk walking, climbing Stairs, rope skipping, or any racquet sport. However, Squats, Lunges, exercises with free weights, and resistance tubings represent good examples of resistance exercises.

Also, flexibility exercises should be done to prevent any muscle shortening. These exercises should always be done under the supervision of your physiotherapist.

What are the precautions to be taken while choosing exercises for osteoporosis?

High impact exercises like plyometric exercises should be avoided, or if done, should be under close monitoring of your physiotherapist. As common complication of osteoporosis includes collapsing of vertebral bodies, Abdominal crunches should be avoided or done with precautions.

Written by: Rashmi Gupta

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