How is Osteoporosis treated?
Osteoporosis is definitely one of those conditions where prevention is better than cure – in fact there is no “cure” that can reverse the effects of osteoporosis. The American College of Physicians recommends medications for osteoporosis sufferers to prevent further bone density loss. These medications have side-effects and the most commonly used medication stops the bone turnover I mentioned earlier, which seems to result in long term users being exposed to greater risk of fractures and even the death of some bone.
Calcium and vitamin D from a variety of foods or via supplements are recommended although this is most effective as a preventive measure. Surgery is an option post fracture to stabilise the spine or help bones heal.
Exercise can help rebuild bone density
One of the benefits of weight-bearing physical exercise is that it stimulates the bone cells to make stronger bone. Studies have shown that post-menopausal women can improve the bone mineral density in the hip and spine with weight bearing exercises. Weight-bearing means you must be bearing the weight of your own body as in walking or weight training – unfortunately cycling or hydrotherapy will not be effective in these circumstances. Swimming can help with spinal strength and chest expansion. Supervised exercise is considered safer to ensure the possibility of fracture is minimised for those at risk.
Another important benefit of exercise is that it can include balance training which reduces the risk of falls and therefore future fractures. Our exercise physiologists are experts trained in helping improve physical conditioning, strength and balance.
Looking after your bones
So, successfully treating osteoporosis is more a matter of avoidance or prevention. To look after your bones you need to:
- Eat a variety of foods that include calcium and vitamin D and avoid too restrictive diets that reduce your intake of these vital nutrients
- Minimise your consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid cigarette smoking
- Weight bearing exercise lasting 45-60 minutes 3-5 times a week
At MOH, we can help you train safely and help build bone strength if you have osteoporosis. Our exercise physiologists can also help you train to improve your balance to minimise the risk of falls and fracture.