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What is Osteoporosis and how can I find out if I may have it?

Osteoporosis is a term given to describe the loss of calcium and other minerals in the bones that leaves bones more vulnerable to fractures or breaks. It is a condition that is most prevalent in the elderly population and those reaching menopause. Regardless of age it is important to try stay on top of our bone health as the consequences of a break or fracture in any our bones can be quite dire!

If your GP wants to understand the health of your bones, they may ask you to have a DEXA scan at a medical imaging facility. From there the results can be shared with your GP and treatment options are discussed. As defined by the World Health Organisation, osteoporosis may be diagnosed if the DEXA scan reveals a T score of -2.5 or lower. Please see the below chart:

  • -1.0 or higher is considered normal
  • -1.0 to -2.5 is borderline osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • -2.5 or lower = osteoporosis

Can it be reversed?

The good news is that an exercise program can be used to improve bone mineral density. A program that utilises weight bearing movements (such as step training), resistance training and specific exercises to work on your balance and posture are all components that will likely be included in the program. As a treatment option, your GP can refer you to see an exercise physiologist who can arrange a tailored and holistic program for you.

Nutrition also helps stop or reverse osteoporosis. A balanced diet rich in calcium and protein such as nuts, dairy, eggs and lean meats will compliment your exercise program as it will provide the necessary building blocks to improve bone mineral density and muscle mass. Some exposure to the sun is also recommended for vitamin D synthesis which has an important role in maintaining bone health.

For further information on exercise and osteoporosis the linked studies below further substantiate how strengthening and high impact training (weight-bearing) are effective against osteoporosis:

For further information on nutrition and osteoporosis this study below covers the broad nutritional aspects relevant to preventing or treating osteoporosis:

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