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osteoporosis and falls prevention

Osteoporosis and Falls Prevention

Osteoporosis and Falls Prevention: What You Need to Know

Imagine going about your day, doing something as simple as bending over to tie your shoe, when suddenly you feel a sharp pain. You’ve fractured a bone, not from a fall or a major accident, but from an everyday activity. For many living with osteoporosis, this scenario is a stark reality, not just a possibility. It’s a condition that can significantly impact your life, but with the right knowledge and resources, it can be managed effectively. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or seeking more information to help a loved one, you’re in the right place to start taking control of your bone health.

Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition characterised by decreased bone density and strength, leading to an increased risk of fractures. It predominantly affects people aged 35 to 60, impacting both men and women, though women are at a higher risk post-menopause due to lower oestrogen levels. The disease develops silently; bone loss occurs without symptoms until a bone fractures.

Risk factors include genetic predisposition, inadequate calcium intake, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Studies show that risk of falling increases rapidly with age and is an important factor for fracture. Over 90% of hip and wrist fractures have been suggested to be the result of a fall.

However, a common misconception about osteoporosis is that it is an inevitable part of aging. While ageing can be a big factor in developing this condition, there are many strategies that can significantly mitigate its effects. Knowing the facts about osteoporosis can empower individuals to take proactive steps towards maintaining bone health.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because it can progress without any symptoms until a bone breaks. However, there are signs and risk factors that might suggest its presence before such serious complications occur. Early signs include a gradual loss of height, noticeable back pain caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra, and a stooped posture. Some might also notice that their clothes fit differently as their spine changes shape.

Scientific observations confirm that the diagnosis of osteoporosis is primarily based on bone density scans, known as dual-energy x-ray  absorptiometry (DEXA). This test is a crucial tool for measuring the grams of calcium and other bone minerals packed into a segment of bone. The results are compared to the bone density of a healthy young adult (T-score) and matched to the average for someone of the same age and sex (Z-score). A T-score of-2.5 or lower indicates osteoporosis.

In addition to DEXA, doctors may recommend other diagnostic tests depending on the individual’s risk factors and medical history. These can include blood and urine tests to rule out other conditions that mimic osteoporosis, as well as a thorough review of the patient’s medication history and lifestyle factors that could contribute to reduced bone density. Early detection is crucial, as it allows for the onset of treatment strategies that can help prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. Individuals at risk—including postmenopausal women, older adults, and those with a family history of osteoporosis—should consider regular screenings. Preventative measures and early intervention can make a significant difference in managing the disease and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.

The Role of Physiotherapy and Other Treatments

Effective management of osteoporosis involves a holistic approach, combining medication, lifestyle adjustments, and notably, physiotherapy. The goal is to not only prevent fractures but also enhance mobility and improve quality of life through personalised therapeutic strategies.

Physiotherapy: Central to managing osteoporosis, explorations in the field reveal that physiotherapy focuses on strengthening bones, improving balance, and preventing falls.  Physiotherapists develop tailored exercise programs that include weight-bearing and resistance exercises, which are essential for building and maintaining bone density. These exercises might involve walking, stair climbing, or using resistance bands and weights to stimulate bone growth and strengthen the muscles supporting the bones.

Physiotherapists also teach patients posture and body mechanics to reduce the risk of spine fractures. Techniques such as spinal extension exercises can be particularly beneficial in countering the stooping posture that often accompanies vertebral fractures. Additionally, balance training is crucial to reduce the risk of falls, incorporating activities that enhance coordination and proprioception, such as Tai Chi or simple balance exercises.

Nutritional Support: Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is crucial; these nutrients are the building blocks of bone and vital for its regeneration. A dietitian or nutritionist can offer guidance on how to optimise dietary intake to support bone health.

Lifestyle Modifications: Quitting smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight are all essential lifestyle changes that support the effectiveness of physiotherapy and overall treatment plans.

Surgical Options: In cases of severe fractures, surgical interventions such as vertebroplasty may be necessary. These procedures are complemented by physiotherapy to aid recovery and improve functional outcomes.

Each patient’s treatment plan should be tailored, taking into account their specific health profile, severity of osteoporosis, lifestyle, and personal preferences. This ensures the most effective and manageable approach for the individual, focusing on maintaining independence and preventing future injuries.

Research indicates that strength and balance training play a crucial role in reducing the rate of falling, especially in older adults aged 80 and over. According to the study, particular attention to these aspects of exercise can lead to a significant reduction in the rate of falling by more than 30% in this demographic group. This highlights the effectiveness of targeted strength and balance training programs in improving  stability, coordination, and muscle strength, which are essential factors in preventing falls among elderly individuals.

By incorporating strength and balance training into regular exercise routines, older adults can enhance their physical capabilities, reduce the risk of falls, and maintain independence in daily activities. These exercises not only help improve overall balance and coordination but also contribute to better posture, muscle tone, and joint stability, all of which are essential for preventing falls and related injuries in the elderly population.

In conclusion, understanding and addressing the risks associated with osteoporosis and falls is crucial for maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle as we age. By embracing early intervention strategies, incorporating strength and balance exercises, and making informed lifestyle changes, individuals can significantly enhance their bone health and reduce the risk of falls.

If you’re in London and suspect you may be at risk, or if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, book a consultation with us at Physiomove London for a tailored treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. Empower yourself with the right knowledge and resources to take charge of your bone health today. Additionally, for those outside of London or unable to visit our clinic in person, we may also book a comprehensive online scoliosis session at the same link above. These sessions provide expert guidance and personalised exercise plans that you can follow from the comfort of your own home, ensuring you receive top-quality care no matter where you are.

Remember, the journey to improved health is continuous and proactive. Take charge of your health today, and pave the way for a safer, stronger tomorrow.

Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London
Physiotherapy London