Osteoporosis: Signs, Symptoms and a Plan
“Use it or lose it.” This is a phrase I use several times a day. Often I’m referring to bone health. So many of us are inactive. We sit and lie down all day: from our bed to our breakfast table, right to our cars, to our desks, back to our cars, to the couch, then to bed. We barely use our bodies, then wonder why they’re not working correctly. In order for our bodies to work correctly, we have to use them. They are built to stand, walk, run, lift, twist… you get the idea. They’re not made for sitting for hours at a time. The bones need the pulling of the muscles on them in order to build mass. Weight-bearing exercise is actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis. As you put more tension on your muscles this puts more pressure on your bones, which then respond by continuously creating new bone.
What is Osteoporosis?
Bone tissue is constantly being broken down and replaced, but if production doesn’t keep up with removal of old bone tissue, osteoporosis can develop. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the bone becomes brittle and porous due to the body making too little bone or losing too much bone, or a combination of both. With osteoporosis, a fall can be devastating, potentially causing fractures in bones that should be able to withstand such forces, such as femur and hip bones. It contributes to the weakening of bone, causing the spaces between bone cells to become much larger than normal.
Symptoms of Bone Loss and Diagnosis
You may not experience symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis. Maybe you notice that you are getting shorter, or that you are more prone to fracture, or that you may have back pain. The only way to definitively know if you have osteoporosis is to get a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA scan). A DEXA scan will assess the density of bone calcium using very small amounts of x-ray radiation. Bone Mineral Density is given a T-score, which compares bone density of a normal healthy 30 year old of the same sex and race to the patient’s bone density. T-scores are assigned based on the standard deviation from normal. If your T-score is -2.5 or higher, you are at high risk for developing osteoporosis.
Osteopenia v. Osteoporosis
The main difference between osteoporosis and osteopenia is the percentage of bone that is lost. Osteopenia is the beginning stages of what may become osteoporosis. It is the thinning of bone mass, and while the percentage of bone loss may not be high, it’s an indicator that osteoporosis can develop if something is not done. Osteopenia is commonly seen in people age 50 and older who have a lower than average bone density but don’t have full-blown osteoporosis yet.
Risk Factors for Bone Loss
Gender, race, family history, inactivity, poor diet, and age are all risk factors for bone loss. Women are at a higher risk because they have a smaller bones than men, and tend to experience bone loss during menopause. Asian and Caucasian women (especially those that are small boned) are at higher risk. Patients with a family history of low bone mass are more at risk for developing osteoporosis. Inadequate vitamin D and calcium will also increase risk of bone loss as calcium is the main building block for bone cells and vitamin D is needed to support that function. As we age, certain hormones (estrogen for women and androgen for men) decrease, which are contributing factors to bone loss. People over the age of 50 start to lose .5% of their bones mass each following year. If you have other illnesses, you may be more prone to bone loss. There are also many diseases and conditions that are risk factors for osteoporosis including but not limited to multiple sclerosis, diabetes, scoliosis, and celiac disease.
Be Proactive: Prevent Osteoporosis
Many people are under the mistaken impression that a prescription drug combined with megadose calcium supplements is the answer to strong and healthy bones. But bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax, Actonel, or Boniva are associated with serious side effects—including an increased risk of bone fracture.
One way to maintain healthy bones is to eat the right kind of foods. A diet full of processed foods will produce biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that will decrease your bone density, so avoiding processed foods is definitely the first step in the right direction.
Certain nutrients, including omega-3’s, calcium, vitamin D, K2, and magnesium, are also critical for strong bones—as is exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises.
One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis is through exercise - specifically exercise that is weight bearing (the legs and feet support your body weight) - walking, running, and dancing are all examples of weight bearing exercise. Flexibility training and resistance training (Yoga, T’ai Chi, stretching, and working with resistance bands or free weights) also help improve bone density. A half hour of moderate to vigorous exercise five times a week is recommended, but if you can do 45 minutes to an hour of exercise, that’s even better. If you already have osteoporosis, exercising will help you to maintain the bone mass you have, but choose lower impact exercises that reduce your risk of bone fracture.
Chiropractic as a Treatment for Osteoporosis
The chiropractic adjustment not only affects joint motion and the central nervous system, it also affects the process of bone breakdown and replacement. A chiropractic adjustment stimulates the cells that are in charge of replacing bone (osteoblasts). So when one receives a chiropractic adjustment, they are not only improving joint motion and the health of their nervous system, they are also giving a positive boost to the strength of their bones. Getting adjusted supports the health of your bones and prevention of osteoporosis, as well as helping you feel better. If you do have osteoporosis or osteopenia, certain adjustments may be modified for your safety.
Do you or someone you know suffer from osteopenia or osteoporosis? If you want to improve your overall health, increase the functioning of your nervous system, and strengthen your bones, then give us a call at (510) 922-1579 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your new patient appointment.
Our Favorite Things:
The Thoracic Denneroll: We use this in office for patients that have too much curve in the their upper to mid-back. The Thoracic Denneroll can actually change the shape of your spine to improve posture. Only a certified Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP) Specialist can prescribe this for you and teach you how to use it.
My friend and colleague, pilates instructor and owner of PHYSIQA, Annabel Castaldo, teaches an excellent class called OsteoFit.
Reverse the symptoms and postural faults associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia. Practice bone building fitness and learn to minimize risk of fracture during workouts and in daily life. OsteoFit is challenging, fun and safe focusing on exercises that emphasize balance, strength, core and hip stability.
8:00am - 5:00pm
9:30am - 6:30pm
8:00am - 5:00pm
9:30am - 6:30pm