"So I went to my doctor and he told me I am at risk of getting osteoporosis. Then he said I need to do weight-bearing exercises. So what does that mean?"
This is a common conversation. People's Physicians often leave them hanging with little to no information about their conditions.
This can be an incredibly frustrating situation but there are things that can be done.
#1. Ask questions
If your physician has told you that you have osteoporosis or that you are at risk you should ask questions.
Ask what your treatment options are
Ask the pros and cons of these treatments
Ask what conservative management options there are
Ask what some of the alternatives to pharmaceutical management there are, in other words, ask what you can do other than taking medication
If your physician does not have any information other than pharmaceutical/medication information then consider finding another physician for a second opinion.
Keep in mind this is your health, not theirs. You have the right to decide your treatment.
#2. Get educated
What is osteoporosis?
Literally -osteo means bone and -porosis means porous. So osteoporosis essentially means the bones have become more porous.
Osteoporosis is a process that typically takes place in older adults. Most people think this disease process only happens in women. This is not true, it happens in men and women.
There are a few reasons why osteoporosis takes place. One of the reasons most people think it's a disease process that happens to only women is because estrogen production after menopause is significantly decreased which decreases the effectiveness of bone remodeling (which is important for healthy bones). This leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
What are other reasons osteoporosis takes place?
One of the biggest reasons is due to a lack of physical stress on the bones due to inactivity.
This leads us to something called Wolff's Law. Julius Wolff was a German scientist who discovered that bones respond to demand. In simple terms, he found with bones use-it-or-lose-it or in other words if you become inactive your bone respond by becoming more porous. Often older adults become less active which makes them more susceptible to osteoporosis.
What is to be done?
What is this mean you ask?
It literally means to put weight through your bones. This is easily done with activities like walking. But you should also weight-bear through your arms with activities like wall push-ups.
Because the bones become porous they are more susceptible to fractures.
Compression fractures are common with osteoporosis. This is where the front part of the vertebrae starts to compress leading to fractures vertebral fractures. It is it is possible to reduce the effects of compression on the spine with spinal extension type activities.
What is spinal extension?
Bending the spine backward.
This can be done by laying on your belly with a pillow placed under your stomach and arching backward. This exercise is called Superman which might give you a visual.
If laying on your belly is too difficult or painful you can do extension exercises while sitting by simply extending your back backward.
Good upright posture also decreases the effects of compression on the spine which decreases the likelihood of compression fractures. Improve your posture in sitting and standing by sitting and standing tall.
There is some basic information about osteoporosis and some basic exercise information to get you started.
#3. Get help
There are resources that can help with those with osteoporosis and those at risk of getting osteoporosis.
Empower Utah Physical Therapy provides a comprehensive evaluation of your body's movements and limitations. Based on these movements and limitations weight-bearing exercises can be provided to fit your personal needs.
If you are interested in talking to us at Empower Utah Physical Therapy for help with weight-bearing exercises contact us for a free consultation to see if we are a good fit to help you.
Dr. Dalin Hansen, PT, DPT
Dr. Dalin Hansen, PT, DPT
Passionate practitioner dedicated to empowering others to take control of their health.