Mid-Week MOT: Osteoporosis
Dem bones dem bones dem.....dry bones!!!
Our bones are the mechanical framework that holds us together, they provide attachment points for muscles and protect our vital organs.
Bone is composed of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, bicarbonate and sodium. They contain bone marrow which produces blood cells, and they have a blood and nerve supply.
Each bone has a hard outer compact layer which covers a honeycombed matrix of softer bone, capable of bending and absorbing forces of impact. Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down, reproduced and remodelled in response to our activity levels.
Up to the age of about 35 years, our break down and replacement is about equal so that mineral density stays the same. As we get older, our breakdown of bone begins to exceed our production and our bones can become less dense and more prone to fracture. This process can be increased as a result of hormonal changes, calcium deficiency and lack of vitamin D from sunlight.
Osteoporosis is a gradual loss of bone mineral density resulting in a greater risk for fractures. It is often not diagnosed until a fracture has occurred as it has no symptoms and your bones do not look any different.
Women suffer more than men at a ratio of 3:1.
Common areas for osteoporotic fractures tend to be the hips, wrists or spine (where the vertebrae can collapse from weight bearing, compressive forces).
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a bone density (DXA) scan. If your density is not too bad but below normal then you may be told you are osteopenic - a sort of precursor to osteoporosis, but this does not mean you will definitely go on to develop osteoporosis.
Risk Factors for developing osteoporosis:
In the few years following menopause, women can experience more rapid bone loss due to falling levels of the hormone oestrogen, making them susceptible to bone loss.
Long term use of corticosteroids such as those used to control severe breathing problems or to treat inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
People with Crohn's or coeliac disease who cannot absorb calcium or Vitamin D.
Excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking both decrease the rate of bone production.
Being underweight can affect your bone density and being overweight may predispose you to greater risk of fractures.
Thyroid and parathyroid disease (affecting calcium levels).
Prolonged immobility from injury or illness.
Strong family history ( although the disease is not hereditary).
What can I do?
A lifetime of moderate weight bearing activity ensures good bone density as the impact stimulates bone growth.
Keep within normal weight ranges.
Cut down your alcohol consumption and do not smoke.
Making sure underlying illnesses are well managed is crucial to your bone health.
Get enough sunlight exposure, Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium.
There are a variety of drug treatment options for osteoporosis including calcium supplementation and bone strengthening agents. Manual therapy (such as osteopathy) can be helpful in dealing with the pain of fractures as can education on preventing falls.
If you are in any doubt about your bone density or your risk factors for osteoporosis, please speak to your GP or visit the National Osteoporosis Society website at www.nos.org.uk/osteoporosis.
As always, for osteopathy in High Wycombe and beyond, call Lucy at OsteoFusion on 07833 321604 or visit the website www.osteofusion.co.uk.