The Midweek Sun
Physiotherapy pivotal in managing osteoporosis(Part 1)
Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that silently steals bone mass. It’s a condition that, if left untreated, is progressive and gradually increases the risk of falls and fractures. Fortunately, bone is a living tissue, and it can be improved through certain types of exercise. Physiotherapist Gofaone Dibaako talks about the different types of activity that help patients to increase their confidence in movement and improve bone health.
Can you share with us how does physiotherapy help if one has osteoporosis?
Physiotherapy assists in pain management strategies, improves posture and balance, and strengthens muscles and bones. Lifting weights and lower impact exercise can in fact decrease the risk of fracture by increasing bone strength. Many people with osteoporosis are fearful of doing strength and other strenuous exercise.
A load larger than normal must be exposed for any physiological system to improve its function. On a day to day basis the skeleton must meet forces greater than those it sustains to improve strength. To achieve this a physiotherapist will design an appropriate exercise program.
Through co-ordination and balance exercises physiotherapy helps in reducing falls risk. When walking around hazards, through narrow spaces or walking on unstable surfaces these exercises help improve balance. Patients when challenged by external stimuli will be able to maintain their balance.
Through strengthening and gentle range of motion exercises physiotherapist’s also aim to improve overall posture. Gradual fractures of the thoracic vertebra and wedging of the vertebra is due to the increased flexion through the thoracic spine. The condition will worsen with poor posture. Upper back and core strength can be increased with the help of exercise in turn helping with maintaining a good posture.
For all those who are suffering from Osteoporosis there is no single exercise regimen. Based on a medical evaluation of muscle strength, fracture risk, level of physical activity, range of motion, gait, fitness, and balance each regimen for the individual patient should be specially tailored.
What treatment modalities do you employ when working with people who have Osteoporosis
Electrotherapy Modalities: TENS to work on pain reduction.
Treadmill- Weight-bearing exercises: Exercises such as walking or hopping, has been shown to maintain or improve bone density in this population
Strengthening exercises, using weights or resistance bands, have also been shown to maintain or improve bone density at the location of the targeted muscle attachments
Flexibility and strengthening exercise: These can help improve the individual’s overall physical function and postural control. eg Tai chi, Yoga.