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Osteoporosis explained and how to help prevent and limit its onset!

Thursday June 18, 2015 at 10:20am
Osteoporosis explained and how to help prevent and
Bone is a living, active tissue that is constantly renewing itself. Old bone tissue is broken down by cells called osteoclasts and replaced by new bone material produced by cells called osteoblasts.     

Generally speaking, bones stop growing between the ages of 16 to 18 though their density can continue to grow up to the age of 30. From the age of 35 the bones slowly start to lose their density and begin to thin which is all part of the natural ageing process. 

Having thinning bones doesn’t necessarily predispose someone to osteoporosis or to the possibility of fracture, though of course the risk does increase. Likewise, having a diagnosis of osteoporosis doesn’t mean that your bones will break, yet it does mean that there is a greater risk of fracture.  

We all have some degree of bone loss as we get older due to our bones being broken down faster than new bone is formed.    

The term osteoporosis is used only when the bones become quite fragile. When bone is affected by osteoporosis, the holes in the honeycomb structure become larger and the overall density is lower, which is why the bone is more likely to fracture. Most fractures develop in the hip, wrist and spine and can occur spontaneously, though largely they occur as a result of a fall or accident. 

Osteoporosis is broken down into two categories:    

Type 1: tends to affect women who have been through the menopause and have low levels of estrogen  

Type 2 or senile Osteoporosis: affects men and women after the age of 75

Secondary osteoporosis can arise at any age and affect men and women equally and is usually a result of a long standing illness or continuous use of medications such as steroid hormones.    

 

Risk Factors which can increase the likelihood of osteoporosis developing:    

1. Fixed risk factors (can't be managed and people need to be aware of them so they can take the necessary steps to reduce bone mineral loss):

  • Age  
  • Female gender  
  • Family history of osteoporosis  
  • Previous fracture 
  • Menopause/hysterectomy   
  • Long term glucocorticoid therapy (Prednisone, Prednisolone, Cortisone)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis  
  • Primary/Secondary hypogonadism in men       
2. Modifiable risk factors impact the biological structure of bone and can result in a decrease in its mineral density but some of the modifiable risks have also been known to increase the risk of fracture of the bone itself.   

3. General risks that we all need to be aware of:      

  • Alcohol  
  • Smoking   
  • Low body mass index 
  • Poor nutrition  
  • Vitamin D Deficiency  
  • Eating disorders  
  • Insufficient exercise  
  • Low dietary calcium intake  
  • Frequent falls      

 

You can find more information: 

Arthritis Research UK

Use Fracture Risk Assessment Tool to calculate your chances of suffering a fracture in the future. 

 

DXA Scanner

If you appear to be at high risk of breaking a bone or have broken a bone after a relatively minor fall, you may be sent for a bone density scan. These are relatively inexpensive and can be organised by your osteopath.   

A bone density scan uses a machine, known as a DXA (Dual energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scanner. To have a DXA scan you will need to wear loose clothing and lie on your back on a couch, while your hip and spine are scanned. This type of scanner uses a low doses of radiation and is open, so does not induce a feeling of claustrophobia. 

The scan takes about 10 - 20 minutes. Your bone density is compared with the average to produce a ‘T Score’. A ‘T Score’ of minus 2.5 standard deviations (SD) or less indicates osteoporosis.  

Your scan results are looked at alongside other risk factors such as your age and family history. This helps decide if you are currently at a high risk of breaking a bone and whether drug treatment should be considered.    

Self-help and daily living for osteoporosis  

There’s a great deal you can do at different stages in your life to help protect yourself against osteoporosis.  

1. Exercise  

Exercise that gets you out of breath is important for your general health and will;
  • strengthen your bones  
  • keep your muscle strength   
  • improve your co-ordination (which reduces your risk of falling and of fractures)    
  • Weight-bearing exercises, any activity that involves walking or running, are better for bone strength than non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming and cycling. However, all forms of exercise will help to improve co-ordination and keep up muscle strength. Muscle loss as we get older (sarcopaenia) is recognised as a risk factor for fractures in older people due to the greater chances of having a fall. T'ai chi, Pilates and Yoga can all be very effective in reducing the risk of falls. 

2. Diet     

  • eat a good balanced diet   
  • ensure a good supply of Vitamin D (Get out into the Sun!)   
  • make sure you are taking enough calcium   
  • avoid drastic weight loss or weight gain programmes     
If you believe that you may have osteoporosis or it has been confirmed that you have, there are a number of options that you can take to prevent fracture occurring:      
  • ensure an adequate supply of Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K (found in leafy green vegetables)  
  • take regular exercise  
  • avoid smoking and alcohol
  • get in touch with your local osteoporosis group

If you have any questions please call us here at the Rugby Osteopathic Centre, we are always on hand to give advice and listen to any query you may have.           

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Warwickshire, CV21 2SN, Tel: 01788 560646, Fax:01788 571318
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