Some populations at risk include:
- Women, especially menopausal. Affects ~25% of Australian Women and ~8% of Australian men
- Older age - increased risk of falling
- Sedentary individuals and low body weight
What is it?
Osteoporosis is excessive loss of bone mass or bone mineral density (BMD). There is actually a precursor to osteoporosis called Osteopenia. The problem with osteopenia is that people do not know this exists as there are no outward symptoms or signs that can be spotted because these symptoms arise at a skeletal tissue level. There is a detailed procedure that needs to be done in order to determine whether you have this precursor or not. Osteoporosis is a condition that won't kill you, however it is a component that affects the structure of your body that generally leads to inactivity but it is this inactivity that is one of the main causes of osteoporosis. Therefore, this is a cyclical problem that needs to be address through early intervention and prevention.
For women during menopause they start to see a reduction in estrogen production which generally leads to a dramatic increase in the rate of BMD loss. Therefore, it is recommended that women should be working on improving their BMD now or as soon as possible even before they hit their early 30s. In theory, the higher and earlier you can make your BMD peak, the impact that any decrease in BMD will have for them in the future will not be as drastic, compared to if they were to do nothing.
Sadly, there is no cure for osteoporosis however the aim is to minimise the rate in which BMD is lost and this is done through the following.
Management of the condition:
- Resistance training would be the focus. Load bearing exercises is ideal to increase muscle mass. Each time we contract our muscles this 'pulls' on the bone causing more bone loading and essentially makes the structure as a whole much stronger.
- Reduces fall risk and your ability to recover from a fall. Poor bone integrity is related to elevated risk of falling due to low strength and can lead to fractures. Therefore, resistance and power training is vital for this, focusing on balance.
- Increase calcium servings in meals as this is vital for improving BMD eg low fat dairy, tofu, fish, green leafy vegetables
- Avoid drinking. It is not the alcohol that causes bone mineral density absorption, however, it is the poor diet and regular intake of alcohol that reduces the uptake of calcium.
- Vitamin D intake.
- See your health professional for more information for the types of medicationsavailable and other forms of assessments.