I’m writing this article to educate everyone about osteoporosis and the epidemic it is starting to become. As a doctor of chiropractic, who applies pressure to people’s bones for a living, I am perhaps more concerned about osteoporosis than most people, however this article hopefully will enlighten you about why you should be concerned as well.
According to studies about 1/3 women and 1/10 men over the age of fifty-five will experience osteoporosis in their lifetime. Approximately 10 million Americans currently are dealing with osteoporosis, costing the US approximately $17 billion dollars annually. The risk of osteoporosis is highest among older women and people of European and Asian descent, however it is a concern for both men and women regardless of their background. The most serious consequence of osteoporosis is the risk of having a fracture, especially after a fall. The hip is perhaps the most commonly fractured area, accounting for approximately 300,000 hospitalizations per year, however the spine and wrist are also commonly fractured. Twenty percent of people who have a hip fracture end up in a nursing home within a year of their injury. Recovery can take months or even years.
Several factors contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis. These factors include genetics, nutrition, and lifestyle among other things. Nutrition plays a big role in overall bone health and perhaps the best way to combat osteoporosis is to be proactive and try to prevent it in the first place. A deficiency of calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D as well as poor overall nutrition and a diet low in fruits and vegetables has been correlated to osteoporosis. Lack of weight-bearing exercise also has an association with osteoporosis, therefore simply eating healthy and exercising may be the best approach to fighting osteoporosis.
In my clinic I look for certain risk factors that may indicate a patient has osteoporosis and modify my treatment accordingly. There are many ways chiropractic care can benefit patients who have osteoporosis and adjustments do not have to be hands on and forceful. Light force techniques and mobilization may be used to benefit patients who could not otherwise tolerate traditional hands on adjusting due to loss of bone density. Risk factors include patients over the age of 65, patients who have broken a bone after the age of 50, patients who rate their overall health as “fair” or “poor” and patients who are notably underweight. Also patients who smoke, who drink alcohol, who began menopause before age 45, and those who rarely exercise are also at risk. Also in my practice I take note of a patient’s past and present medical history since there are certain diseases or conditions which also may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, such as hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, lung disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel, liver/kidney disease, Cushing’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis among others. Also certain medications may place patients at a risk of decreased bone density. These medications may include steroids, cancer treatment, thyroid medications, and immunosuppressive agents just to mention a few. Proton pump inhibitors, such as the medications Prilosec and Prevacid used to treat acid reflux and GERD, have been associated with an increase in fractures as well as certain types of antidepressant medications. So as you see, there are a lot of factors to consider. The most significant thing to remember is that aside from getting enough calcium and vitamin D, the single most important point is to avoid dietary approaches that deplete the body of calcium, such as lack of activity, excessive protein in the diet, drinking caffeinated beverages such as soda, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Eat right, exercise, and enjoy life to it’s fullest, oh, and get adjusted once in a while