Treatment for osteoporosis focuses on slowing down or stopping the mineral loss, increasing bone density, preventing bone fractures, and controlling the pain associated with the disease.
Some 40% of women will experience a broken bone (fracture) due to osteoporosis during their lifetime. In those who have a vertebral fracture (in their back),
one in five will suffer another vertebral fracture within one year. This condition potentially leads to more fractures. This is called a "fracture cascade." The goal of treatment is to prevent fractures.
- Diet: Young adults should be encouraged to achieve normal peak bone mass by getting enough calcium (1,000 mg daily) in their diet (drinking milk or calcium-fortified orange juice and eating foods high in calcium such as salmon), performing weight-bearing exercise such as walking or aerobics (swimming is aerobic but not weight-bearing), and maintaining normal body weight.
- Specialists: People who have spinal, hip, or wrist fractures should be referred to a bone specialist (called an orthopedic surgeon) for further management. In addition to fracture management, these people should also be referred to a physical and occupational therapist to learn ways to exercise safely. For example, someone with spinal fractures would avoid touching their toes, doing sit-ups, or lifting heavy weights. Many types of doctors treat osteoporosis, including internists, generalists, family physicians, rheumatologists, endocrinologists, and others.
- Exercise: Lifestyle modification should also be incorporated into your treatment. Regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of bone fractures associated with osteoporosis.
- Studies show that exercises requiring muscle to pull on bones causes the bones to retain, and perhaps even gain, density.
- Researchers found that women who walk a mile a day have four to seven more years of bone in reserve than women who don't.
- Some of the recommended exercises include weight-bearing exercise, riding stationary bicycles, using rowing machines, walking, and jogging.
- Before beginning any exercise program, make sure to review your plan with your doctor.
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