What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is defined as low bone mass and the structural deterioration of bone tissue, which can lead to bone fragility and an increased risk of fracture in the hip, spine and wrist. According to the National Institute of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease Resource Center, over 40 million people are diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone density. Approximately one in two women and one in four men, age fifty and older, will suffer from a fracture related to osteoporosis.
Common Causes & Risk Factors
The most significant underlying cause of osteoporosis is less than optimal bone growth during childhood and adolescence, which results in never obtaining full potential for peak bone mass. Causes of osteoporosis later in life can be from bone loss due to a greater than expected rate of bone resorption or a decreased rate of bone formation, or both. Risk factors include:
- Gender: women lose bone mass faster due to changes with menopause (decreased estrogen leads to bone loss)
- Age: bones inevitably become thinner and weaker as we age
- Body Size: petite framed women are more at risk
- Ethnicity: Caucasian and Asian women are the highest risk
- Family History: genetic factors may determine as much as 50-90% of bone mass
- Sex Hormones: absence of menstrual periods, low estrogen and testosterone
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Poor Calcium and Vitamin D Intake
- Medication Use: long-term steroids, anticonvulsants and cancer chemotherapy drugs
- Lifestyle: inactivity increases risk, as well as cigarette smoking and alcohol intake
How We Treat
Treatment for patients with osteoporosis consists of a comprehensive program, which includes proper nutrition, exercise, safety education for fall prevention and appropriate therapeutic medications. The primary goal of treatment is to prevent fractures. Physical therapy can help prevent fractures by assisting patients with fall prevention – patients will begin a regular exercise program to strengthen muscles and improve balance under the supervision of a physical therapist. Patients will also be educated on how to make their home safer, as well as on assistive devices that may be beneficial to them, i.e. walker, cane.
The Program that your Physical Therapist will design may include:
- Low impact weight bearing exercises
- Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights
- Movement modification instruction to avoid movements that may place excess stress on the spine
- Flexibility exercises to help counteract the typical postural deviations that occur with age
- Balance training to help decrease fall risk
*Services are not available at all locations. Call or click the location page near you for that center’s services.
What to Expect
Every patient has a unique health history, diagnosis and personal goals. When you come for your first appointment, we will create a personalized treatment plan for you.
We work with most major insurance providers and do our best to help keep the paperwork pain-free. If you’d like to confirm your insurance coverage, please let us know and we can verify when you schedule. If your insurance provider requires a co-pay, we will ask for this payment at each visit. We accept payments by cash, check or credit card.
When to Arrive
On average, a patient’s first visit lasts about an hour. We typically ask patients to arrive 15 minutes early to sign-in, complete paperwork and/or change clothes.
What to Bring
On your first visit, you’ll need to bring your physician referral or prescription (if needed), your insurance card, your primary registration forms, your ID or driver’s license and your co-payment (as applicable). If desired, you may bring a change of clothing.
How it Works
During your first visit, your physical therapist will do an initial evaluation and discuss your plan of care. The therapist uses this information to set goals for your continued treatment. Physical therapy goals may include improved movement, strength, endurance and flexibility, as well as decreased pain. Your subsequent visits will focus on treatment that is based on your diagnosis and individualized goals.