What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means “porous bone”, and it is sometimes known as the “brittle bone disease”. The bone is a living tissue and is dynamic. It is constantly being formed and lost throughout our lives. When we are young the loss is easily replaced, but as we age more bone is lost. If the rate of bone formation is slower than that of bone loss, the bone becomes weaker and more porous.Osteoporosis is when your bone becomes weak and porous after losing too much bone material. As a result of the weak bones, they may break very easily with a simple slip or fall or even with no injury at all. Both men and women can suffer from osteoporosis, but it is most common in women after menopause.

What causes Osteoporosis?

At around the age of 30, our bones are at their strongest. However, as we age, less bone is made and more bone is lost. After menopause, a woman's body's supply of oestrogen hormone decreases and the rate of bone loss increases even more. This is why postmenopausal women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. There are also many other factors that contribute to bone loss such as illnesses, medications and lifestyle choices.

What happens when you have Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can be a silent disease. Most people do not know they have osteoporosis until it is too late. Their bones become so fragile that even the smallest amount of stress can cause a break or fracture. The bones in your hip, wrist and spine are at greatest risk of breaking. If the bones in your upper back are fractured, your spine may curve to form a hump. Osteoporosis may result in chronic pain, decrease your mobility and affect your quality of life. Detecting Osteoporosis

Doctors can conduct Bone Density Tests, x-Rays and use other diagnostic tools to evaluate your bone health.

Low bone density is when your bone density is lower than normal, but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. People with low bone density are more likely to break a bone and may have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis because they have less bone to lose.

What can you do to protect your bones?

    • Get enough calcium and vitamin D and eat a well balanced diet.

    • Engage in regular exercise.

    • Eat foods that are good for bone health, such as fruits and vegetables.

    • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day.

There are two types of exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Weight-bearing Exercises

These exercises include activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright. Weight-bearing exercises can be high-impact or low-impact.

High-impact weight-bearing exercises help build bones and keep them strong. If you have broken a bone due to osteoporosis or are at risk of breaking a bone, you may need to avoid high-impact exercises. If you’re not sure, you should check with your doctor. Examples are:

Exercise for Strong Bones

Low-impact weight-bearing exercises can also help keep bones strong and are a safe alternative if you cannot do high-impact exercises.

Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

These exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity. They are also known as resistance exercises and include:

    • Lifting weights

    • Using elastic exercise bands

    • Using weight machines

    • Lifting your own body weight

    • Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes

Yoga and Pilates can also improve strength, balance and flexibility. However, certain positions may not be safe for people with osteoporosis or those at increased risk of broken bones. You may work with a physiotherapist who can assist you on these.