As Chiropractors, this is not all that common in practice, but common enough I felt compelled to write this article, and certainly very common in the general population.
Secondly, of the patients I do see with this condition, it certainly presents in a very particular way and needs to be managed also, in a very particular way.
Let’s start with what actually is osteoporosis?
This condition affects over 1 million Australians, more women than men, and generally over 50yrs.
Essentially the bone becomes fragile and brittle and this may lead to fractures although this has not been my observation in Chiropractic practice.
The fragility is, in part caused by a loss of calcium leading to a thinning of the bone and less than half of all Australian adults get their daily recommended intake of calcium!
For our female population, you’re more at risk because of a rapid decline in estrogen levels (~2% per year) during menopause and this then causes the bone to deplete in Calcium (as well as other minerals).
IMPORTANT POINT: Dr. Andrew Arnold says, ‘for the bloke’s testosterone depletes more slowly causing us to lose less bone mass over time.’
What about your family history?
Yep, this is a factor. A good indication is if someone has broken a bone from a minor fall!
What about your calcium and Vit D levels?
Dealing with low calcium levels: 1,000 mg per day (TIP: Try and get this from your diet). For the ladies over 50 and men over 70, this needs to bump up to 1,300 mg.
Dealing with low vitamin D levels: Firstly, D help C absorption. Secondly, to get more D, to put in simply, more SUN! But don’t go crazy, you can still get sunburnt. I recommend getting a UV app on your phone to track the UV intensity. A cloudy day can still be high UV. Bottom line, you just need to be outside for half an hour per day.
What’s the deal with your medical history?
Know that there are medical conditions and drug medications that can have a negative impact on the health of your bones.
- Low Oestrogens in the ladies, testosterone in the men as mentioned above.
- Overactive Thyroid conditions.
- Diseases causing poor gut absorption, e.g. Coeliac, inflammatory bowel disease etc.
- Long-standing or chronic problems such as Rheumatoid arthritis and Liver/kidney diseases.
- Drugs that treat cancers and epilepsy Some medicines for breast cancer, prostate cancer, epilepsy, and some antidepressants.
- Lack of activity.
- Too much alcohol.
- Over or underweight.
So how do you know if you have osteoporosis?
As a Chiropractor, we often refer to x-rays. Osteoporosis may show up here however, it needs to be 30%+ advanced before being evidence radiographically. Medically the GP’s refer you for what’s known as a Dexa-scan or bone density scan. If you’re Chiro has picked this up on x-ray and you’re at risk, then I’d recommend getting this done. Early intervention is a good idea!
How does your GP interpret a DEXA-scan?
You will fall into 3 categories:
- Low bone density (called osteopenia) or
Let’s look at Calcium in more detail:
Did you know ~99% of your body’s calcium is found in your bones?
Calcium requirements(courtesy https://www.osteoporosis.org.au)
Of course, the best option is always diet.
Here are some suggestions:
- Salmon or sardines.
- Broccoli, mustard cabbage, Bok Choy, silver-beet, cucumber, celery, and chickpeas
- Almonds, dried figs, and dried apricots
How do you optimize your calcium absorption?
- Maintain good levels of Vitamin D.
- Moderate your caffeine and alcohol
- Moderate spinach and rhubarb.
- Certain medical conditions (eg: coeliac disease, kidney disease) and certain medicines (eg: prednisone, prednisolone)
So, what about exercise?
It’s all about doing the right kind of exercises.
- Weight-bearing, e.g. walking, jogging or sports.
- Resistance training, e.g. gym.
A comment on swimming and cycling. These are awesome for overall general health but have little impact on bone health.
- Make it a habit, e.g. 3x per week.
- Increase over time and vary it up.
- High intensity, interval training is best.
- Do balance exercises, e.g. using a fit ball.
Finally, let’s talk about how the osteoporotic person typically presents in our practice.
This sort of pain doesn’t fit any other picture. It is non-specific, deep and boring in nature. It carries on regardless of time of day or exertion or injury and can be worse at night. A chiropractic adjustment helps to mobilize the joints, reset the muscles and ligaments and activate the joints. Indirectly this may help lessen osteoporotic pain.
For more information give us a call on 5998 4554 or make an appointment and in the meantime make sure you keep active and moving.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor and the Million Dollar Wellness Mentor.
Founder: 12 Keys Wellness Practice Workshop, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic, and Wellness Centre and Million Dollar Wellness
Andrew is married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.