Share | Print | Email Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Fractures are most common in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis, known as the "silent disease," occurs without symptoms until a person has a fracture. Of the 10 million Americans who have osteoporosis, eight million are women and two million are men.

Osteoporosis is diagnosed based on what is called a "T" score, which is determined through specialized bone density tests. T scores in the minus or negative numbers means your bone density is lower than normal. If the T score is - 2.5 or greater, it means you have osteoporosis. All women over 65 are encouraged to have a bone mineral density test.

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include the following:

  • Age less then 50 years
  • Race is Caucasian or Asian
  • Slender body build
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Diet low in calcium and vitamin D
  • Little or no physical activity
  • Eating disorders
  • Certain medications for thyroid or cortisone-like drugs
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Ovary removal
  • Early menopause

Osteoporosis can be prevented and treated through the following recommendations:

  • Weight bearing exercises
  • Calcium consumption. People 50 - 64 years of age taking estrogen need 1,000 mg/day; those not taking estrogen need 1,500 mg/day
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Cut back on caffeine because it increases the amount of calcium lost in urine
  • Avoid laxatives which interfere with calcium consumption
  • Discuss with your doctor medications that can help strengthen your bones

Physical therapy
Physical therapy can help by assisting you with development of a weight bearing exercise program that is appropriate to your level, and can educate you on good posture. Physical therapy will also focus on balance training and fall prevention to help prevent risk of fractures.