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Osteoporosis: How Physical Therapy Helps

Preventing bone loss is an important concern for women, especially during the menopause and post-menopausal stages. Menopause significantly speeds bone loss and increases your risk of osteoporosis. Approximately 10% of women over the age of 60 are affected by osteoporosis worldwide. Osteoporosis increases your risk for fractures, which can cause pain, decrease your mobility, and function.

When do I achieve peak bone density?

Peak bone density occurs between the ages of 25 to 30. After the age of 30, bone density naturally declines. This is because the body is not able to regenerate new bone fast enough, resulting in bone loss. This is why it is important to maximize your bone density in your 20's! This means, exercise! Do weight-bearing exercise, like walking, jumping, running, and hiking (especially hills). Do strength training, with weights!

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?

It is important to ask your doctor for a bone density test, or a DEXA scan. Most insurance companies will not cover this test until you turn 65 years old (this is when Medicare will pay for it). However, I think it is always important to get a baseline of your bone density as early as 45 to 50 years old.

Understanding your bone density scores

After you complete your bone density test, you will receive a list of scores. One of them is known as the T-score. Osteoporosis is defined as a T-score that is lower than -2.5. Some people have low bone density, which is known as osteopenia. Osteopenia is is defined as a T-score between -1.0 and -2.5.

bone density

What is the treatment for osteopenia and osteoporosis?

Weight-bearing exercise and strength training is the most effective treatment to build your bone mass. Ideally, you want to start building your bone mass as a teen and in your 20's. Building strong bones early in life helps prevent bone weakening later. Also, getting enough vitamin D and calcium is important! To get 1:1 guided physical therapy to start your exercise program for osteoporosis, visit my services page!

Three Exercises Tips for Osteoporosis

  • Avoid spinal flexion and twisting movements. When sitting up from bed, try a log roll. When bending over to pick up something off the ground, hinge at your hips instead of rounding through your spine. Avoid sit ups or crunches.

  • Walk on inclined surfaces and wear a weighted vest. Instead of walking on flat leveled ground, try walking in the hills! Wear a weighted vest, even as much as 6-8 lbs.

  • Incorporate strength training and weight-bearing exercise.

Check out my video about modifying your exercise to build stronger bones!

Three Tips for Maintaining Healthy Bones

  1. Avoid smoking. It reduces bone mass.

  2. Do not drink alcohol in excess.

  3. Be aware of medicines, like cortisone, which can increase bone loss

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