Osteoporosis Therapy

Physical Therapy for Osteoporosis

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, physical therapy can help prevent a future bone injury. Osteoporosis is the gradual loss of bone density and weakening of the structure of the bones in the body. Osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, refers to below normal bone mass.

Physical therapists play a vital role in slowing the progression of osteoporosis or rehabilitating patients after a bone fracture. Andrea Rankin, physical therapist with Total Rehab Care,, specializes in the treatment of osteoporosis. She works with patients to restore movement, function and bone strength.

“If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, you don’t need a bone fracture to begin physical therapy,” says Andrea. “Seeing a physical therapist is a proactive step to strengthening your bones and avoiding future fractures.”

The components of a comprehensive physical therapy program include:

Assessment of the patient’s condition including an evaluation of bone density tests, medical history, pain, range of motion, strength, balance, gait and functional ability.

Site-specific exercises to target at-risk areas of the body indicated by a lack of flexibility and balance.

Body mechanics strategies to improve daily living functions such as sitting, standing, lifting, bending and even sleeping.

Posture correction that focuses on proper posture in work and home environments and exercises to improve postural alignment.

Balance retraining to prevent falls.

Weight-bearing exercises to decrease the risk of bone fractures. “Activities such as walking, dance aerobics and jogging place good stress upon the bone to help it lay down healthy, new bone,” says Andrea.

Dynamic bracing that strengthens and reduces rounding of the spine.

Pain management treatment using electrical nerve stimulation, moist heat or even aquatic therapy to decrease pain before starting exercise.

“Weight bearing exercises and improved muscle strength protect the bone and prevent the disease from becoming worse,” says Andrea. “Additionally, better control over your balance helps prevent falls while proper posture takes unnecessary stress off your spine.”

Talk to your primary care physician about your concern or risk of developing osteoporosis. A physical therapist can help you develop an individualized treatment plan to improve bone health and lessen the chances of experiencing an osteoporosis-related fracture. 

Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation