What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease or condition involving a decrease in bone tissue mass, meaning that the bone becomes progressively more fragile (more brittle or porous). There are no symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis so people cannot tell that they are beginning to develop what is commonly known as ‘bone loss’ unless they undergo specific tests.
The condition develops painlessly. For the first 35 or so years of our lives, our bodies regularly build bone mass (break down old bone and make more new bone), but the process slows down with age and eventually, our bodies lose more bone than they make.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition because it increases the risk of osteoporotic fractures. People with osteoporosis can break a bone doing simple every day things that would not normally result in fractures. Very often, it’s only after they suffer fractures (typically in the hip or thigh bone, wrist or forearm or the vertebral column, the spine) that patients discover they have osteoporosis.
There are no initial symptoms, but advanced cases of osteoporosis could lead to: acute back pain (often accompanied by shooting pain due to nerve compression), neck pain, loss of height over time, stooped posture or curvature of the spine (kyphosis). Sometimes these symptoms indicate an osteoporosis-related injury (such as a collapsed vertebra).
Is Chiropractic An Option In The Treatment of Osteoporosis?
Persons who know they have osteoporosis are usually hesitant about seeking chiropractic care for their back and neck pain. This cautious attitude arises from the widespread notion that chiropractic care is limited to administering spinal adjustments and the misconceptions about the force administered during spinal adjustments. Knowing that their bones are fragile and fracture prone, osteoporosis patients are wary of forceful spinal manipulations. This concern is legitimate. It is extremely important for chiropractors to be aware of the fact that a patient has osteoporosis so that they can determine the best care plan and whether to use or avoid spinal manipulation treatment.
While you should definitely notify your chiropractor of your condition if you know you have osteoporosis, it is the chiropractor’s responsibility to evaluate a patient’s medical history and symptoms prior to beginning treatment. Particularly for elderly persons complaining of back pain, chiropractors should order x-rays, bone scans, and / or mineral density tests (MDT) to ascertain whether the patient has osteoporosis, bone disease, or a compression fracture.
Chiropractic is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention musculoskeletal disorders, but it is above all a holistic approach to health and well-being. While there is no cure for osteoporosis, your Doctor of Chiropractic can definitely develop a safe and personalized healthcare plan to help improve the quality and strength of your bones:
* For osteoporosis patients who have not experienced fractures, chiropractors can take steps to prevent the condition from worsening, prescribing exercise (specific programs that avoid sudden or excessive strain or stress to the bones), diet plans and vitamin supplements to bolster bone density. Besides helping to reduce or alleviate pain associated with osteoporosis, regular chiropractic care also helps to protect patients from falls (and osteoporotic fractures) by optimizing joint mobility, range of motion, balance and muscle tone.
* For patients with osteoporosis-related injuries, chiropractic care uses several techniques, including orthopedic support, certain forms of physical therapy, ice therapy, electro-muscle stimulation etc that will strengthen the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine.
You may think that chiropractic care is only about manipulating joints and performing spinal adjustments, but it actually includes many other procedures. Chiropractors are familiar with the risk factors of osteoporosis and use various forms of modified techniques to meet the needs of osteoporosis patients. If your Doctor of Chiropractic determines that your condition would benefit from an adjustment, he will do so using a consistent low-force, high-speed chiropractic adjustment that is safe and appropriate.
To benefit fully from chiropractic care, it is important that you trust both your chiropractor and the prescribed treatment plan. If you feel you need reassurance, there is no reason why you should not consult your primary healthcare provider.