What does a woman diagnosed with osteoporosis do? Is a loss of bone density reversible? What kind of exercise is NOT okay?
It’s time to debunk myths and talk about solutions with Karyn Staples, PT, Ph.D., lead physical therapist at ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio in Peachtree City.
Myth 1: It’s women who are bent over who have osteoporosis. According to Karyn, osteoporosis is called the silent disease because not everyone knows they have significant bone loss.
Myth 2: Osteoporosis is not a big deal. People with osteoporosis have an increased risk of falls and bone fractures. It takes them longer to heal, and they may require more extensive surgery or joint replacement hardware.
With a dowager’s hump (an excessively curved upper back), osteoporosis can also compress the lungs and affect digestive and heart function.
Myth 3: There’s nothing you can do about osteoporosis. “To improve bone density, you have to have weight bearing activity,” Karyn says. “Most people associate walking or standing with weight bearing, but really your bones just need some load applied. For someone newly diagnosed with osteoporosis, she would benefit from a visit to a physical therapist for guidance on exercises, posture, and body mechanics during daily activity.”
Karyn cites an example. Edith* was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis, and experiencing mid-to-low back pain. She started physical therapy and an exercise program. After she graduated physical therapy, she started taking Pilates.
“At her one-year follow up for her diagnosis, Edith had improved and was no longer in the osteoporosis category,” Karyn notes. “She was osteopenia category, bone weakening, but not bone loss.”
Karyn designed a Pilates class for those with osteoporosis: Building Better Bone Health meets on Tuesdays and Fridays and 11 a.m at ProHealth. The class involves instruction and exercises shown to improve bone health, bone density, and balance. It also teaches overall postural awareness.
When instructing clients and patients with bone loss either in the class or in private Pilates lessons, Staples and her team teach Pilates with movement modifications for forward bending, side bending and rotation.
Why is it so important to be mindful of how the movement happens? “They could get a compression fracture in their spine, and it’s very painful,” Karyn explains. This risk is why she recommends walking, dance, Pilates and tai chi to her osteoporosis patients, but not yoga, because yoga poses have too much forward bending.
“I have another client who says all her friends are getting shorter, but she’s not. She had breast cancer treatment, which effects bone density. She’s coming to Pilates twice a week. She attends morning mat class and Healthy Spine class. She knew what her movement restrictions were based on Building Better Bone Health class, so she could go into these other classes,” says Karyn.
To make a physical therapy appointment, schedule a class or lessons, call ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates at 770-487-1931. ProHealth is located at 1401 Georgian Park, Suite 120 in Peachtree City. For physical therapy, bring a physician’s referral. Private Pilates lessons and all classes are available without a referral. For more information, visit ProHealth’s website at www.prohealthga.com.