So I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about Osteoporosis. In the healthy skeleton, bone resorption (normal break down) and formation occurs in a balanced and organised fashion, but in the case of Osteoporosis, this balance is lost.
In Osteoporosis the support structures making up the inside of the bones becomes thinner, causing the bones to become more fragile and prone to breaking, resulting in pain and disability. It is estimated that around 3 million people in the UK have Osteoporosis.
Many people assume that it is just women who develop Osteoporosis. This is not quite true as one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will fracture a bone, mainly due to poor bone health in the UK. But Osteoporosis is often a silent condition, giving no pain or other symptoms to alert you to the fact, until the worst happens and a bone breaks. As such, many people living with Osteoporosis are unaware that they have fragile bones until this happens, sometimes with devastating consequences.
Osteopaths, like physios and other manual therapists are in a prime position to screen people for this silent condition, offering management advice and support as part of our holistic approach. There is a lot of self management that can be done to prevent Osteoporosis, and to reduce our chance of breaking a bone if we do develop the condition. Osteopaths are often viewed by the general public as experts in the field of bone health, and as such, they are well placed to screen patients for this condition and offer practical advice on risk factors, prevention and treatment.
Screening - An Osteopath can screen you for the condition using a special online screening tool called the FRAX questionnaire. The FRAX tool has been developed by World Health Organisation (WHO) to predict the 10-year probability of hip or other major osteoporotic fracture in patients based on determinants generally accepted to be the key risk factors.
People who are found to be at moderate to high risk will be advised to consult their GP. There are a range of drug treatments for Osteoporosis that help to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of having fractures. Most drug treatments work by slowing down the activity of the cells that break down old bone (osteoclasts). These are known as ‘antiresorptive’ drugs. Some treatments stimulate the cells that build new bone (osteoblasts). These are known as ‘anabolic’ drugs. Others may combine these two effects. These drugs are prescribed where appropriate by the GP. However prevention advice is equally as important. Once a person has been identified as being at risk of developing Osteoporosis, there is plenty they can do themselves to manage the condition and reduce the chance of breaking a bone.
- Take plenty of weight-bearing exercise
- Eat a well-balanced, calcium-rich diet
- Quit smoking
- Don’t drink alcohol excessively
Exercising is particularly essential as we get older, not only to improve bone strength but also to keep the muscles strong, which is vitally important to prevent us from falling. Strengthening bones and reducing the risk of falling in older age will help to prevent fragility fractures.
We have qualified and experienced Osteopaths and Physiotherapists at the Centre who are also able to offer support for this condition, so why not contact us for a discussion on what would be best for your specific case.
For more information see our pages on osteopathy and physiotherapy.
For more information on osteoporosis see https://nos.org.uk.