Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses too much bone mass or produces too little new bone tissue (or both). As a result, the bones can become weak, brittle and susceptible to fractures. For this reason, fall prevention is very important for individuals who are diagnosed with osteoporosis. In very severe cases, porous bones can even break with a cough or sneeze.
At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, we develop customized physical therapy programs to address osteoporosis and help prevent falls. We begin with a thorough analysis of a patient’s medical history, risk factors and body mechanics, including any limitations in strength, balance or range of motion. Based on the results of this evaluation and the evidence-based guidelines in the Rehabilitation Guide of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, we can provide individualized recommendations, such as:
- A progressive rehabilitation program, which may include targeted stretches, weight-bearing activities and strength training to enhance aerobic conditioning, muscle strength and bone mass, including exercises for balance, flexibility and coordination
- Education on postural improvement
- Training on how to move safely during daily activities, such as walking and lifting
- Assistive devices, such as braces and canes, to improve balance and mobility
- Interventions such as grab bars and railings to reduce the risk of falls in a patient’s home
- Pain management strategies (a cornerstone of the rehabilitation of vertebral fractures)
- Surgery, such as a kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, if appropriate
While regular exercise is essential for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, it is essential to consult with a physician or physical therapist prior to beginning any exercise program in order to avoid vertebral fractures. In general, movements and body positions that involve bending the spine forward should be avoided. These include exercises such as sit-ups, curl-ups and toe touches, as well as exercise machines such as abdominal exercisers, bicep-curl machines, cross-country ski machines, rowing machines and stationary bicycles and moveable handlebars. Sports and activities that involve twisting the spine, such as tennis, golf and bowling, should also be avoided.
Osteoporosis can be prevented by building adequate bone density with regular exercise and sufficient calcium and vitamin D intake through childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. But, it is never too late – steps can be taken to improve bone health at any age. Most importantly, an active lifestyle that includes weight-bearing exercise is key to maintaining bone density. It is also important to avoid habits that can promote bone loss, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Maintaining good posture and body mechanics can also contribute to good bone health throughout life.
If you have questions about osteoporosis and fall prevention, contact Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston to request a consultation with a physical therapist at our spacious, 4,500-square-foot facility in Houston, TX.