Did you know that osteoporosis is one of the least-discussed, under-diagnosed and under-treated diseases in Australia? Yet, poor bone health affects 2 in every 3 Australians over the age of 50 years.  It seems only perfect to discuss the ramifications of poor bone health this week, Healthy Bones Action Week.

Osteoporosis is a paediatric skeletal disease with adult ramifications

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a generalized skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength and deterioration of bone quality. Osteoporosis can be a primary disorder or can be caused by a host of other factors, including smoking, lifestyle choices and various medications.

Osteoporosis? Impact on Society

Though most prevalent in post-menopausal women, osteoporosis occurs in all populations and at all ages, with significant physical, psychological and financial consequences. The impact of this disorder is massive on society in terms of stress and cost placed on the healthcare system, morbidity and mortality. Over time, bone fragility can accelerate the onset of multiple fractures, causing a progressive loss of stature and continuous contraction of the paravertebral (spinal) muscles in maintaining an upright posture. This sequence of events can result in muscle fatigue and pain that last well after the fracture has healed. Thus assessment of bone mass, identification of fracture risk, and determination of appropriate treatment are optimal goals when evaluating patients for osteoporosis. Due to the long lasting impact of osteoporosis, chronic dysfunctions can occur, including postural alterations, subsequent fractures and muscle atrophy.

Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis

The evaluation and treatment of patients with osteoporosis requires a holistic approach that focuses on the specific characteristics of this population, assessing their comorbidities, mental status, functional status and independence in carrying out daily activities. Fracture prevention is the primary treatment goal for patients with osteoporosis. Several treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures, including those that enhance bone mass and reduce the risk of consequences associated with falling.

Participation in physical activity has beneficial effects on your quality of life. More specifically, performing weight bearing physical activities improves your functionality and reduces your pain levels. The standard rehabilitation program for individuals with osteoporosis is centred on correcting their posture, preventing falls by improving balance and coordination, relieving pain associated with osteoporosis, and enhancing one?s psychological well-being. Frequently, group exercise classes are proposed to teach the individual various exercises that they can perform independently at home. It is important to remember that the exercise regimen must always correspond to the needs of the individual, however, it should target flexibility, muscle strength, core stability, cardiovascular fitness and gait steadiness.

Take Home Messages

  1. It is important to assess your bone health if you are over 50 years of age speak with your family doctor to arrange the appropriate tests;
  2. Exercise is so crucial to ensure that your bones are strong and healthy join an exercise program today to improve your future; and
  3. Osteoporosis does not just affect the elderly but is a paediatric condition with adult consequences, this being said your bones are only as strong as they need to be, so ensure your bones are strong, healthy and active!
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Larry is a highly skilled physiotherapist who specialises in treating back and neck pain, postural issues and scoliosis. He is certified in Schroth and SEAS methods and through the Egoscue University. Larry has a background in elite gymnastics and springboard diving and also has many years experience in endurance running and triathlons. His specialist knowledge and techniques have seen him appointed as a gymnastics coach and physiotherapist at both the Olympics Games and Special Olympics.

His passion and driving philosophy is about achieving the best outcomes for his patients utilising an amalgam of the latest techniques and theories while recognising there may sometimes be a need for invasive procedures. Where deemed appropriate Larry will then refer to a specialist. To further his holistic understanding and approach, Larry is currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Spinal Deformity and regularly attends and speaks at international conferences and courses and clinics.

Fun fact: Larry is learning how to surf - so be careful next time you go to the beach! Qualifications: B.Sc (Physiotherapy); M.Sc. (Exercise Physiology); Advanced Certificates in Schroth (BSPTS) and Egoscue (PAS) and SEAS Larry is Level II certified (advanced) in the conservative treatment of Scoliosis based on the Schroth method. The training was conducted by Dr Manuel Rigo of the Barcelona School at Scoliosis Rehab Inc in Wisconsin. He has completed his SEAS scoliosis treatment training at ISICO in Milan. Larry has also spent time working with Dr Rigo in the Barcelona clinic. Larry also has advanced certificates in shoulder treatment, posture alignment therapy and acupuncture.