Osteoporosis / Bone Health

Osteoporosis is an increasing public health problem that causes loss of life and reduced quality of life in sufferers.   Although the onset of osteoporosis can begin at any age, it is more common in older adults.   Approximately 300,000 Irish people aged 50 tears and over may have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bone”, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As the bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs “silently” and progressively. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.

The good news is that osteoporosis is now a largely treatable condition and, with a combination of lifestyle changes and appropriate medical treatment, many fractures can be avoided.

You can decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis by choosing life habits that help to build and maintain healthy strong bones. Adults reach their peak bone mass by the late teens or early 20s, but by the mid-30s the cells that build bones are less efficient and bone mass is gradually lost.   We therefore know it is important to be aware of our bone density and what we can do to maintain it early in life.

Once you have been diagnosed, appropriate exercise can help improve bone mass or slow down the rate of loss of bone mass. A well-designed exercise program will help maintain optimal function and help work towards optimal bone health. Weight bearing aerobic training, and / or strength training contribute to bone health as the mechanical stresses put through the bone during exercise can affect bone density and stimulate bone remodelling.

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The Role of Exercise:
At Wicklow Physiotherapy Clinic we are experts in the prescription of exercises. We recognise the importance of being aware of bone health from an early age. The aim is to maximize peak bone mass in children and adolescents therefore participation in a variety of high-impact activities at this age should be encouraged. In the middle adult years, small increases in bone mass may be achieved by structured weight-training and weight-bearing exercise. In the older adult years, particularly if osteopenia or osteoporosis is present, the aim is to conserve bone mass, reduce the risk of falls, promote extended posture, reduce pain, and improve mobility and function.

Benefits of Exercise:
Physiotherapists can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. They can also help you manage problems related to osteoporosis including problems with balance and fractures. Research has shown that exercise can help you maintain optimal function as you age. For example:

• If you have broken a bone because you have osteoporosis, a physiotherapist can help manage the pain
of the fracture, and plan a treatment program to help you regain strength, mobility and function and
get you back to regular daily activities.

• If you have poor balance and have fallen or are afraid of falling, a physiotherapist can prescribe a
program that meets your needs. Personally tailored exercise programs have been shown to be more
effective than general programs at helping people regain good balance.

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Exercise is only one part of a healthy lifestyle for optimal bone health. You can decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis by choosing life habits that help to build and maintain healthy strong bones. A well-balanced diet with sufficient calcium and intake, along with regular physical activity during childhood play important roles in developing and maintaining good bone health.

For more information on our osteoporosis management service please contact the clinic at 0404 64333.

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