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Osteoporosis – Are my bones crumbling?

We know from our ‘Myth Monday’ post that Osteoporosis does not mean that your ‘bones are crumbling’. Osteoporosis is a gradual loss of bone density, meaning the bones are not as strong as they previously were. The inside of our bones are essentially made of a honeycomb structure, much like scaffolding. As bone density reduces, the scaffolding poles reduce in number & become a bit thinner, so much more easily broken.

Bones don’t usually break without a good reason, i.e. significant force or trauma. However, with Osteoporosis, less force is required to break a bone. For example, in usual conditions, if someone falls onto an outstretched hand/wrist, it wouldn’t normally cause the bone to break, but there is a much greater risk in someone with Osteoporosis.

Now this may seem scary if you have been diagnosed with Osteoporosis on a DEXA (bone density) scan, but there is quite a lot you can do to improve the situation. Prior to a diagnosis, doing load-bearing impact exercises such as walking, jogging, dancing & gym exercises will really help in maintaining a good level of bone density. Following a diagnosis, there are still lots of things that can be done – medication will be prescribed to raise bone density, but the same exercises apply to further increase bone density & provide more resilience in the bone if subjected to a fall or external force.

So the key is two-fold – give the bone more resilience, but also reduce the risk of falling. A combination of balance & strengthening exercises have been shown to reduce fractures from falling. Although Osteoporosis is symptomless until someone breaks a bone & has a DEXA scan, there are several common associated risk factors – low body weight, family history, smoking, food intolerances or absorption issues such as collitis or Crohn’s disease. Age is also a factor, with most people diagnosed over the age of 75. It has been shown that starting resistance exercises early helps to keep bone density at a relatively normal level. It isn’t a given that we get Osteoporosis when we get older – it can often be a case of doing the right exercise.

So don’t be sacred of Osteoporosis or think that your ‘bones are crumbling’ & it is dangerous to exercise. Quite the contrary – start your resistance & load-bearing exercise early.

We run a number of exercise classes at Harbourside that would help to reduce your risk of Osteoporosis & falls, so please do get in contact & we can discuss what might be appropriate for you.

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