There are many myths surrounding osteoporosis. Take this true or false quiz to test your OQ (Osteoporosis Quotient).
1. Osteoporosis is painful so you’ll know you have it.
2. Only older women get this.
3. There’s really nothing that can be done about osteoporosis. It’s part of the aging process.
4. If I lose height due to bone loss, obviously I would know it.
5. In order to get more calcium, I should consume more dairy products.
6. Strengthening my back will reduce my chance of osteoporosis.
7. If I didn’t build strong bones as a kid, I can make up for it later in life.
8. Any exercise will build my bone strength, it doesn’t matter which one.
1. False. Although a compression fracture of the spine can be very painful, over half of the individuals only report a “catch in their back” or discomfort. Osteoporosis itself is usually pain free.
2. False. Although females over 50 are more likely to get osteoporosis, men and young adults or even teenagers are diagnosed with osteoporosis.
3. False. Research shows that site specific exercises along with proper nutrition can have positive effects on bone health. Drugs are also available and should be discussed with your physician if you are interested in this route.
4. False. Because the height loss comes from the spine and not the leg bones, your pants don’t necessarily become longer. Sometimes a person may notice they have to adjust their rearview mirror. Occasionally, the rib cage comes to rest on the pelvis causing severe pain which alerts the patient. When you see your physician, ask him or her to check her height for a baseline measurement. Then recheck it annually. Or stop in at Cary Physical Therapy. We’ll be glad to measure you on our Stadiometer. No charge.
5. True, sort of. Dairy products are not the only source of calcium. Sardines, pink salmon, spinach and calcium-fortified orange juice are some additional ways to get more calcium in your diet.
6. True. Research shows that certain exercises targeted at specific back extensor muscles will “pull” on the bones which in turn stimulate bone growth.
7. False. We build most of our bone density before age 20 and reach our peak between 25 and 35 years of age. After that we begin a gradual, small loss of bone. This is a normal process. Osteoporosis or osteopenia happens when that rate is accelerated and the normal regeneration of bone does not keep up. But, you can never have more bone density than you have at your peak. This is why it’s critical for adolescents to get good nutrition and exercise regularly. Even bone building medications aren’t able to surpass what we had at our peak. Osteoporosis has been called a “pediatric disease which manifests itself in adulthood."
8. False. Certain exercises have not been shown to increase bone density and some may actually detract. This includes swimming because the bone does not get the impact. Swimming is good for other health issues such as cardio training and easy on the joints for arthritis. Flexing the spine (bending forward as in “crunches”) is actually contraindicated for osteoporosis. A study out of Mayo Clinic showed that women with one vertebral compression fracture had an 89% re-fracture rate after doing crunches while the group who did back extension exercises only had a 16 percent re-fracture rate. Walking straight ahead is not nearly as effective as “surprising the bones” by walking sideways, backward and skipping.
>> Cary Physical Therapy is located at 2615 Three Oaks Rd, Suite 1A in Cary. To schedule a free osteoporosis pre-assessment, call 847-516-8095. For more about Cary Physical Therapy, visit www.caryphysicaltherapy.com.