Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Facts About Osteoporosis

 By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that decreases bone mass and strength, making them more fragile and susceptible to fracture.  Osteoporotic fractures of the spine and hip are linked to an increased risk of death within the first year after fracture.  Other effects of osteoporotic fractures can include chronic pain, depression, loss of freedom and long-term disability.  Below are some additional facts about osteoporosis.

·        The risk of major osteoporotic fracture in Canada is among the highest in the world.  The cost to the Canadian health care system of treating osteoporotic fractures is currently estimated to be $1.9 billion annually.
·        Osteoporotic fractures are more common than heart attack, stroke and cancer combined.  Each year over 125,000 Canadian women suffer osteoporotic fractures affecting the spine, hip, wrist, shoulder, pelvis, and other regions in the body.  The diagnosis of a single fracture increases the risk of subsequent fractures.
·        Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis include:  advancing age, female gender, family history, caucasian race, early menopause, use of certain medications, tobacco and excessive alcohol use, insufficient physical activity, and dietary calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency. Although considered a female health issue, osteoporosis is also becoming a major health concern among males.
·        Bone mineral density testing (BMD) can help identify those at risk for osteoporotic fracture and in need of health care management.
·        Increasing dietary calcium and vitamin D can help reduce bone loss.  Other key nutrients, which have been identified as being crucial for healthy and strong bones, include the correct balances of vitamins C, E, and K, and micronutrients magnesium, boron, potassium, and folic acid.
·        Precautions can be taken by osteoporotic individuals to minimize the risk of slip and fall injuries inside and outside the home.  Regular exercise can also improve an individual's strength, balance, and coordination and help with preventing falls and the risk of fracture.
·        Resistance (weight-bearing) exercise is best for directly reducing the rate of bone loss.  Non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming, cycling, and walking must be combined with resistance exercise to be of benefit in slowing bone loss.  Examples of resistance exercise include the use of ones own body weight for performing movement (i.e. squats, push-ups), weight machines in a fitness facility, dumbbells, and resistance tubing.  Resistance loads need to be greater than those experienced during normal daily activities.  The effects of resistance exercise are site specific, meaning that only bones that are loaded through resistance will benefit from the activity.  To maintain the positive effects of exercise on bone, the program must continue throughout life.

Although certain risk factors cannot be controlled in combating bone loss, there are natural lifestyle choices an individual can make in preventing the onset of osteoporosis and the risk of fracture.  For more information on lifestyle, dietary and exercise management strategies concerning osteoporosis visit

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.