South Florida Hospital News
Thursday August 13, 2020
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April 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 10
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"Osteoporosis and Me"

Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

In many in women more than in men aging involves loss of height and weight and development of stooped posture. A metabolic bone-thinning condition, osteoporosis, is often the cause for these bodily changes. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. It may lead to bone fragility and to increased susceptibility to fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a major health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans or 55 percent of the people 50 years of age and older. In the U.S. alone, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike at any age and significant risk has been reported in people of all ethnic backgrounds. Yet, of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis, eight million are women and two million are men.

Bone loss occurs without symptoms and people may not know that they have osteoporosis until after a traumatic event involving a fracture. Only then it is discovered that their bones became weak to a point where a sudden strain, bump or fall induces a fracture or causes a vertebra to collapse. Osteoporosis, often called the " silent disease" , may thus be first felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis or stooped posture.

Personal history of fracture after age 50, first-degree relative history of fractures, current low bone mass or being thin or having a small frame are the key risk factors for osteoporosis. A family history of osteoporosis, advanced age and being a female are also high as osteoporosis risk factors. Specialized tests called Bone Mineral Density (BMD) tests can measure bone density in various sites of the body. They can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs, estimate chances for a fracture in the future and determine the rate of bone loss.

The National Institute of Health recommends six personal measures for bone health: 1) maintain an adequate supply of calcium to your body; 2) provide your body with enough Vitamin D for optimum calcium absorption and bone health; 3) exercise regularly; 4) avoid smoking and alcohol; 5) if allowed by your doctor, avoid medications that can increase bone mass loss; and 6) use osteoporosis therapeutic medications if prescribed by a doctor.

In addition, physical therapists design and deliver treatments to minimize the effects of osteoporosis by improving flexibility, increasing strength and correcting posture. A personalized combination of education, exercises and adjustments to activities-of-daily-life is utilized to minimize the effects of osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fall.

Colette Amit is a partner and Chief Clinical Officer with RehabXperience, LLC, an outpatient physical therapy center in Sunrise, Florida. She can be reached at (954) 741-2221.
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