Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis...
Mobility Right up until Old Age!
What exactly is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, also referred to as bone atrophy, is a disease of the skeletal system.
Bone substances and structures are lost or reduced with an osteoporosis disease, thus the tissue structure of the bones deteriorates. To a large extent, the stability as well as the elasticity are lost.
As a consequence, the bones are more susceptible to fractures, they may even collapse (sintering) – hence there is an increased risk in the area of the vertebral bodies – which may lead to considerable mobility constraints up to what is generally referred to as a "widow's hump".
Sport against osteoporosis?
Regular exercise serves to protect at any age. It slows down bone resorption, which is very effective in osteoporosis prevention.
Athletic people build up more bone mass. Thus, for osteoporosis prophylaxis, you should exercise on a regular basis. The value of sport as osteoporosis prophylaxis has been proven in osteoporosis prevention studies.
Appropriate sports to prevent and treat osteoporosis
- Hiking, walking, fast walking
- Cross-country skiing
- Swimming, aquarobics
Jogging is ideal for people suffering from osteoporosis and as an osteoporosis prophylaxis since the percussions stimulate the bones to build up more bone mass. For people who are less exercised, we recommend walking, hiking, cycling and swimming. Additional regular physiotherapy and gymnastics strengthen the musculature, thus stabilizing the joints and relieving the body.
Sports inappropriate for the prevention of osteoporosis:
- Handball or soccer – fall hazard
- Martial arts
- Squash and tennis
Osteoporosis prophylaxis starts in childhood
What can you give your children to take along with them? Romping, running, climbing – for children, motion stimuli are very important. People leading an active life right from the start, develop healthy bone mass and already prevent osteoporosis in childhood. Ensure sufficient exercise of your children especially on schooldays. Excessive sitting develops malpositions in the back of children; the spine may be subject to considerable impact.
Tips for physical exercise with osteoporosis
- Gentle exercise – no overstraining
- Take any opportunity for exercise in daily routine (climbing stairs instead of using the lift)
- Go for a speedy walk every day
- Watch your posture – keep the spine straight
- When bending down always bend your knees
- Gymnastics every second day
- Ask a physician you trust to counsel and supervise you
- Nutrition to prevent and treat osteoporosis
Since physical exercise stimulates the metabolism, an increased amount of calcium can be incorporated into the bones. Ensure sufficient supply with calcium and vitamin D. Many fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products as well as nuts, seeds and mineral waters contain calcium.
The following are recommendations of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V. (German Association for Nutrition) on osteoporosis (in German): www.dge.de
Risk factors for the development of osteoporosis
- Not enough exercise
- Not enough sunlight
- Excessive consumption of nicotine, caffeine and/or alcohol
- Familial (genetic) loading
- Diseases such as anorexia and bulimia
- Total hysterectomy
- Beginning of the menopause
- Lack of calcium and/or vitamin D
- Regular intake of medicine such as cortisone or heparin
Symptoms as a warning sings of osteoporosis
- Bone fractures on arms, legs etc- that occur easily and more frequently than on average
- Frequent muscle tensions as a consequence of malpositions of the spine
- Formation of a hump
- Loss of size by up to 30 cm
- Breathing trouble, indigestion due to restrictions (cause by malpositions)
- X-ray examinations reveal former bone fractures
Diagnostics of osteoporosis
Detecting osteoporosis at an early stage is often difficult so it frequently stays undetected for years. Detection at an early stage, however, would be important to keep the consequences as light as possible.
Methods of diagnosing osteoporosis
- X-ray scans/osteodensitometry using the DXA method (bone density measurement)
- Computer tomography
- Ultrasound scan (supplementary only)
- Genetic testing (genetic defects can be detected, if any – important for prophylaxis)