Osteopathic Journals and Research by Darren Chandler


Osteoporosis: are you at risk?

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  • What is osteoporosis
  • Osteoporosis risk factors
  • What can osteopathic manipulative treatment do?

What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. It is often a ‘silent condition’, giving no pain or other symptoms until the worst happens and a bone breaks most commonly in the wrist, hip and spine. 

In the UK, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will fracture a bone, mainly due to poor bone health. Although an illness typically associated with postmenopausal women men are four times more likely to get osteoporosis than prostate cancer.

It’s quite normal for bone loss to occur between 20 and 40. It’s a good idea to make a few healthy lifestyle choices outlined in our previous blog on osteoporosis as early as possible to help prevent problems later in life.

Osteoporosis risk factors

There are several factors generally accepted to be risk factors in osteoporosis and related fractures. These include:

  • Genetics: Check your family history.
  • Gender: Osteoporosis is not exclusively a female disease but it is more prevalent in women.
  • Age: The older you are the higher the risk. Bone loss starts between 20 and 40 but increases in later life.
  • Body weight: You need to carry a bit of weight! Those with a body mass index less than 19kg/m sqd are more likely to get osteoporosis.
  • Previous fracture: If you have sustained a previous fracture either spontaneously or from a trauma, which, in a healthy individual, would not normally result in a fracture then there’s more risk of it happening again.
  • Alcohol: The NHS advise there is no safe level of alchol consumption but to not exceed 14 units a week. 3+ units a day increases your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases your chance of osteoporosis.
  • Steroids (glucocorticoids): If you’ve been taking a daily dose of 5+mg prednisolone for more than 3 months there is a risk of developing osteoporosis. Do not come off your medication consult with your GP.
  • Other illnesses: Illnesses associated with osteoporosis are: rheumatoid arthritis (not ‘wear and tear’ osteoarthritis), bone cancer, multiple myeloma, Cushing’s disease, type I diabetes, osteogenesis imperfecta in adults, untreated long-standing hyperthyroidism, hypogonadism or premature menopause (before 45), chronic malnutrition, or malabsorption and chronic liver disease.

If you think you maybe, or are not sure if you are at risk from osteoporosis you should consult your GP.

What can osteopathic manipulative treatment do?

If you’re worried your pain could be due to osteoporosis consult with your osteopath. A thorough case history and examination will let your osteopath know if it’s a simple soft tissue injury or if there’s a need to refer to your GP for a second opinion. Osteopaths are trained to give lifestyle advise on exercise to help improve balance and bone strength.

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