Osteoporosis- What is it and how can physical therapy help my bones?

Osteoporosis is a common disease that causes a thinning and weakening of the bones. It can affect people of any age but is most common in women over age 50. Osteoporosis affects 55% of Americans aged 50 or older; one-half of women and a quarter of men will fracture a bone as a result of low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis.  Other risk factors for this disease are smoking, medications, and sedentary lifestyle.


Osteoporosis is typically diagnosed by a bone-density test ordered by a physician, which is a simple specialized X-ray.  It is very important that men and women advocate to have this test done, as osteoporosis is a “silent” disease and has often has no symptoms.  Left undiagnosed, a person can have a fracture occur from a simple misstep or even a big hug.

How can physical therapy help with a bone disease?  Believe it or not, weight bearing and resistance exercises are one of the most important methods of both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.  Some of the most effective treatments include activities like dancing and lifting weights.  Physical therapists are specially trained to help determine the best exercises, dosage, and progression for each individual.  If you are at risk for osteoporosis or have already been diagnosed, please see your trusted physical therapist for treatment.

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