World Osteoporosis Day 20th October 2014

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What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone health, causing them to become weak and fragile and more prone to fractures.
Where do these fractures occur? These fractures most commonly occur in the spine, wrist and hips but can affect other bones such as the arm or pelvis.

In Northern Ireland in 2014 72,000 people have osteoporosis, the combined cost of hospital and social care for patients with a hip fracture is £65million.

What causes osteoporosis?

In childhood, bones grow and repair very quickly, but this process slows with age. Bones stop growing in length between the ages of 16 and 18, but continue to increase in density until you are in your late 20s. From about the age of 35, you gradually lose bone density. This is a normal part of ageing, but for some people it can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
Other things that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis can include, diseases of the hormone producing glands – such as an over-active thyroid gland; a family history of osteoporosis; long-term use of certain medications that affect bone strength or hormone levels, for example, oral steroids; or heavy drinking and smoking.

What can I do to reduce the risk of osteoporosis?
For women, to reduce the risk, you need to acquire as much bone mass as possible prior to to menopause and reduce the rate at which bone is lost after the menopause.
Women attain their peak bone mass between the ages of 10 to 20. From their 20s onwards until menopause there is a very slow rate of bone loss. This is accelerated at menopause and for few years following the menopause when it can be as high a 5% per year until it slows again.

If my levels are low…..4 ways to maximise my bone mass….
1. Take part in weight bearing exercise and resistance based exercise:
The greater the bone mineral content at the time of peak bone mass (i.e. from 10 until 20 years of age) the more the bone an individual can afford to lose. So the period of early adolescence is a particularly important time to maximise bone mass. Genetic factors also play an important part but there are still many things we can do to help maximise our chances of optimal bone health.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends impact based exercise for children and adolescents to maximise bone mass, such as gymnastics, jumping, resistance exercises and participation in sports that involve running and jumping such as football, basketball, and netball, at least 3 times a week for between 10 and 20 minutes.
Exercises to promote balance have also been found to be effective in reducing the risk of falls for individuals over the age of 65.
2. Ensure adequate calcium intake:
The effects of exercise on bone appear to be maximised with adequate calcium intake, particularly during the period of early childhood to young adulthood ( a recommended 1200mg of calcium should be consumed during that time).
For post-menopausal women, greater calcium intake is needed to retain calcium balance because of increased urinary calcium losses associated with low oestrogen levels. The recommended calcium intake for post-menopausal women is 1200mg of calcium per day.
However, it is important that you ALSO take adequate levels of vitamin D for bone health. An oral vitamin D dose of 400 IU/day is sufficient for fracture prevention, increasing to a recommended 700 to 800 IU/day to reduce the risk of hip and any non-vertebral fractures in ambulatory or institutionalised elderly people.
3. Stop smoking and moderate your alcohol intake:
Smoking is damaging for a multitude of reasons including your long-term bone health, if you want to maximise bone health, stop smoking. Excessive alcohol consumption is also detrimental to bone health so moderate your intake (recommended 14 units maximum for women per week).
4. Avoid excessive exercise:
Excessive levels of exercise can disrupt the menstrual cycle having a detrimental effect on bone health due to hormonal disruption so make sure you are not exceeding a healthy limit for your exercise.


I have had my menopause, so what exercise can I do safely?

For those wishing to commence on an exercise programme, a comprehensive per-exercise evaluation is necessary. We can help assess and advise on safe exercises considering your medical history and any other relevant medical information.
You may wish to attend your GP for blood measurements of haemoglobin, glucose, electrolytes and cholesterol levels. Recommended exercise levels for older adults and those at risk of osteoporosis advise involving large muscle groups such s walking, swimming, cycling or dancing, together with balance exercises.
For positive effects, exercise is recommended between 3 and 5 per week for a period of 20 minutes each.


Visit: the National Osteoporosis Society home page for lots of information:


How can we help you at Physiotherapy Bangor?

We provide a wide range of physiotherapy and massage treatments targeted at the management of osteoporosis.

Further Information

We hope to see you soon at Physiotherapy and Massage | Bangor Clinic!

Call 07779363613 or click here to request an appointment

Kate Hayes

Author: Kate Hayes

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