Osteoporosis can be improved or prevented with treatments including Osteopathy, Acupuncture and Naturopathy
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures (breaks or cracks) than in normal bone.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone mass or density). As a result, bones become thinner and less dense, so that even a minor bump or accident can cause serious fractures. These are known as fragility or minimal trauma fractures.
Which bones are affected by Osteoporosis?
Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the most common sites are bones in the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arm. Osteoporosis usually has no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens - this is why osteoporosis is often called the 'silent disease'.
Fractures due to osteoporosis can lead to changes in posture (eg developing a stoop or Dowager's hump in your back), muscle weakness, loss of height and bone deformity of the spine. Fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability, loss of independence and even premature death.
What are the risk factors of Osteoporosis?
Fixed risk factors which cannot be changed include:
- Female gender
- Family history
- Previous fracture
- Long term glucocorticoid therapy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Primary/secondary hypogonadism in men
Modifiable risk factors include:
- Low body mass index
- Poor nutrition
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Eating disorders
- Insufficient exercise
- Low dietary calcium intake
- Frequent falls
How do Osteopathy, Acupuncture and Naturopathy help with Osteoporosis?
cannot increase your bone density - but sensible advice can help. In the early stages, or before you even begin to develop low bone density, there are strong life-style choices you should be making.
Osteopathy treatment can help strengthen the muscles which support the musculoskeletal system, enabling exercise routines to be undertaken.
In advanced osteoporosis there are numerous 'mechanical' changes in the spinal joints which may cause pain. Joint manipulation in these cases is never advisable, but postural advice, an exercise regime, hydrotherapy, gentle joint mobilisation and soft tissue work is very effective.
Acupuncture can assist with giving up smoking and help alleviate the cravings associated with withdrawal. Acupuncture can also assist with weight, caffeine and alcohol reduction.
- Smoking reduces oestrogen production in women. This hormone is important to maintain strong bone.
- Women who smoke regularly tend to have earlier menopause (another risk factor of menopause); due to reduced oestrogen levels.
- Smokers can't absorb calcium efficiently and calcium is important to maintain strong bones. Smoking effects can begin immediately on adolescents; they often have smaller bone size and lower bone mass.
- Healing rate of fractured bones is lower in smokers - this is true of both genders.
- By age 70, smokers' bone density is 5 percent lower than normal.
- More than ten percent of hip fractures in smoking women can be attributed to this habit.
- Oestrogen replacement therapy shows less effectiveness in smokers.
Although it may vary in some cases, the overall conclusion is clear. A good way to prevent osteoporosis is to quit smoking immediately or at least cut down you smoking gradually. Your bones will be grateful for the new change in lifestyle.
Naturopathy is used to evaluate your diet and food habits, and to help promote better and more balanced eating to aid absorption. Vitamin and mineral supplements are often recommended, with specific attention given to calcium and Vitamin D in the diet.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and the active form in the body is not only crucial for calcium absorption, but in regulating levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Sunlight forms a major source of Vitamin D as it is not readily available in many foods unless they are fortified.
In patients already showing the signs of low bone density, these are increasingly important factors to address, as advanced osteoporosis can cause crippling pain and disability.
What additional help is available?
- Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake (recommendations range from country-to-country, varying between 800 to 1300 mg per day, depending on age)
- Regular, weight-bearing exercise
- Not smoking
- Avoiding heavy drinking
- People of middle age and beyond should follow these fundamental principles
- Nutrition and lifestyle factors as well as weight-bearing exercise play an important role in osteoporosis prevention and management. By improving balance, muscle strength and agility, individually tailored exercise programs can also help to prevent falls. Special exercise programs, under professional supervision, can help with rehabilitation and pain relief after a fracture.
- Practical help such as advice on how to reduce the risk of falling, assistive devices such as walkers and hip protectors, and techniques for 'safe movement' in everyday activities such as walking, reaching/lifting, housework and gardening, is also very important.
What evidence is available?
How can we help with Osteoporosis?
Our clinics in Cambridgeshire and London offer Acupuncture
treatments for Osteoporosis.
Our Sawtry clinic covers a wide area from Peterborough to Huntingdon and St. Neots, while at the Steeple Morden clinic we receive patients from Baldock and Royston, plus Ashwell and all over North Herts.
From Deeping St James, our most rural clinic attracts patients from Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough.