Beating Bone Disease – How to Live with Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease of the bones that can lead to an increased risk of breaks and fractures, and it’s a common problem amongst women and the elderly. We treat it on a day-to-day basis and while physiotherapy is a great way to lessen the symptoms of the disease, it’s not the only solution.
The disease itself has no symptoms and so it can be difficult to diagnose – many people discover that they have osteoporosis after breaking a bone when normally the bone would have remained intact. It’s more common in women after menopause, and elderly men and women are also at risk – in fact, over 50% of all women over sixty suffer from a fracture because of osteoporosis, and many of these injuries pass unnoticed. [Also read; 4 healthy foods you can eat for stronger bones]
Luckily, despite the lack of visible symptoms, doctors can diagnose osteoporosis using x-rays and by measuring the bone mineral density, although they may carry out further tests to see whether there’s an underlying problem. The first step towards dealing with osteoporosis is to be aware that you have it in the first place, so ask your GP to run a test if you’re not sure whether you’re a sufferer.
Of course, they say that the best cure is prevention, and that holds as true for osteoporosis as it does for any other ailment. You can reduce your risk of developing the disease by carrying out weight-bearing and strengthening exercises, such as walking, dancing or playing tennis. Avoiding smoking and drinking less alcohol will also help, and it’s important to eat a diet that’s rich in calcium and Vitamin D so that your body is prepared to strengthen the bones.
Unfortunately, if you do develop the disease, there’s no known cure – that means that you’ll need to learn to live with your condition, but the symptoms can be managed so that your life won’t be overly affected. As osteoporosis sufferers are more vulnerable to fractures and breaks, it’s important to avoid situations in which you might fall or otherwise sustain an injury, and hip protectors are occasionally used by older patients.
Some GPs may prescribe medication, particularly if you’ve already suffered an osteoporotic fracture, but it’s not always necessary and dependent upon the severity of your condition. It’s also important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle – stay active by carrying out light exercise, and keep an eye on your posture. A poor posture promotes the loss of bone mass and increases the risk of falling.
Physiotherapy sessions can also be useful, both to assist with recovery after a fracture and to strengthen the bones and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Many physiotherapists can create a tailored exercise program that’s designed with you in mind, to make sure that staying fit and healthy is less of a chore and more of a hobby.
In the end, no two patients are the same and it’s a good idea for osteoporosis sufferers to book a consultation with both their GP and their local physiotherapist – both will be able to offer great advice that’s unique to them, and you’ll be able to get on with your life in the knowledge that you’re doing everything you can to avoid osteoporotic injuries.
Do you suffer from osteoporosis? Perhaps a loved one has the condition. Either way, we want to hear from you – how do you deal with the disease? Let us know with a comment!