Posted by: admin in Articles on January 4th, 2013

A Chiropractic Approach to Osteoporosis

Being able to move without pain or other limitations is extremely important in maintaining an acceptable quality of life, particularly as the mean age in society is moving upward.  A common cause for being admitted to an assisted living facility is due to morbidity and immobilization from osteoporosis.  In this widespread disorder, the bones weaken and become brittle as a result of demineralization and increased bone resorption rates.

While it is often thought of as an older person’s disease, osteoporosis can strike at any age and starts a chain reaction of poor quality of life, loss of mobility, pain and ultimately death.  The good news is that it can be addressed and reversed in the early and even some later stages.  Chiropractors are well positioned to assist people with this disease through a natural approach.

An estimated 44 million Americans are afflicted with osteoporosis.  The disease affects 55 percent of the people 50 years and older and often leads to fractures.  Approximately one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.  In 2005, osteoporosis was responsible for more than 2 million fractures, costing an estimated $19 billion, and is expected to rise to 30 billion by 2025.  In 2007, more people died from osteoporosis-related injuries than from ovarian and breast cancer.

Even more worrisome is the evidence of osteoporosis in pre-menopausal, younger women who frequently dieted in their teens and 20′s.  Many of these young women did not have substantial nutrition to build and maintain healthy bones or deposit sufficient mineral content to get them through aduthood and childbearing years.  Combining this with the growing baby boomer generation just starting to become seniors, the statistical data point to an epidemic that requires the attention of the chiropractic community.  The problem of osteoporosis is significant and will continue to grow.

Osteoporosis Prevention

Compared to other life-threatening conditions, osteoporosis prevention is simple, affordable, and easy to implement.  Undertaking the rsponsibility of educating the public about osteoporosis, as well as recommended natural treatment approaches, should be a major part of the chiropractic message.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) lists five simple steps for an individual to optimize bone health and prevention:

1.   Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise.

2.   Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and Vitamin D.

3.    Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.

4.    Have a bone density test, and take medication when appropriate.

5.    Talk with your health care provider about bone health.

The great news from these guidelines above is that osteoporosis is a preventable disease.  Most significant is that each of these steps falls squarely into the field of chiropractic.  As the NOS and its research have shown, a sensible approach to treating osteoporosis is a combination of early detection, weight-bearing exercise, implementing lifestyle changes that promote bone growth, proper nutritional support, and adding pharmaceutical intervention in more advanced cases.

Preventing osteoporosis can be as simple as staying up-to-date on your bone density tests.  If it has been over a year since you’ve had the test and you have any of the risk factors of osteoporosis, then a bone density test would be the next step.

Bone mineral density (BMD) tests are simple, cost effective and non-invasive.  They measure bone density quickly and accurately in various sites of the body.  Virtually every hospital or radiology clinic has modern, safe equipment and accepts referrals from chiropractors.  Most BMD tests are also fully covered and even recommended by many health insurance companies.  It is also helpful to interpret bone-related hormone levels via blood analysis.  Many of these can be accomplished with pinprick blood kits in lieu of blood draws and are therefore avaliable for the DC to perform.

Treating Osteoporosis

Once diagnosed with osteoporosis, the patient should start with weight-bearing exercise, as an initial form of treatment.  Weight-bearing exercise can be done in many forms including exercise bands, free weights and a variety of resistance machines.   Whole body vibration (WBV) is a form of weight-bearing exercise that has been particularly well documented to benefit bone growth.

WBV is a safe, effective and affordable form of in-office treatment exercise and rehabilitation.  With very few contraindications, WBV has a very high compliance rating because of its ease of use.  The vertical displacement of the WBV platforms creates sufficient micro-contractions of the muscles to exercise and strengthen the muscles and bones.  A minimum of 3 to 5 mm vertical displacement at a frequency of 20Hz and 50 Hz is the recommended unit requirement.  By using specific static and dynamic exercise patterns, chiropractors can incorporate WBV as part of their osteoporosis treatment programs.

Weight-bearing exercises like WBV are particularly effective for osteoporosis when combined with proper nutritional supplementation.  Many of the supplement companies in the chiropractic world offer various combinations of nutrients as osteorosis supplements.  At a minimum, an osteoporotic supplement should include vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but other natural products can provide synergistic benefits as well.

Along with early dectection, exercise and nutrition, lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation and reducing alcohol consumption, are important components of addressing osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis represents a huge problem facing the American public.  Take the time to learn more about preventing and treating osteoporosis before any symptoms begin to show up.*

*(Reprinted with permission of the American Chiropractic Association)


No individuals, including those under our active care, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnose or self-treat any health-related condition. Diagnosis and treatment of all health conditions should only be performed by the doctor or other licensed health care professional.
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