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(The Silent Disease)

Osteoporosis means "porous bone." It is often called the "silent disease" as it depletes bone mass without symptoms and pain. Ten million Americans are estimated to already have this disease, which is predominantly seen in females. Bone density testing, densitometry, is the test for diagnosis.

When most people think of bone, they imagine a solid unchanging mass of calcium. Bone serves as a structural purpose as well as a reservoir for minerals. The density and quality of a bone are involved in bone strength. Osteoporosis is a disease that is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue which results in bone fragility and susceptibility to a fracture.

The most common sites of fractures related to osteoporosis are the spine, hip, wrist and ribs. Controllable risk factors are the following: inactive lifestyle, a diet low in calcium and Vitamin D, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive cola consumption and excessive weight loss leading to amenorrhea. Some uncontrollable risk factors are the following: Hormones - the loss of estrogen during/after menopause has a direct link to increase bone loss. Long term use of medications, such as prednisone and thyroid replacement, can affect bone density.

Osteoporosis is not just a women's health issue. There are rising rates of osteoporosis for men. * A low testosterone level in men can increase the risk for this disease.* It is projected to increase by 50% during the next 15 years.

Exercise is an important part of prevention and treatment. Weight bearing exercises increase bone minerals and density that over time can dramatically reduce the severity of osteoporosis. Bones respond to weight training just as muscles do. They grow and get stronger. Physical therapy can assist the osteoporotic client with the following intervention: weight bearing and strength training, postural stability and balance along with patient and family education.

It is NEVER too late to take action to take care of your bones. The sooner you start, the better! The actions you take will make the difference!