What Is Disuse Osteoporosis?

Here is a brief, reader friendly article that will cover the following related issues:

  • Definition of disuse osteoporosis
  • Who is at risk of developing this disease?
  • How can this condition be prevented or reversed?
  • The importance of a calcium rich, nutritionally balanced diet
  • Dietary recommendations
  • Foods, drinks and activities to avoid
  • Other considerations

Definition of disuse osteoporosis

Disuse osteoporosis is a condition characterised by loss of bone mineral density. It most commonly appears after a period of immobilisation.  Areas of the body that have been without movement for periods of as little as one week start to show signs of deterioration in the bone and surrounding muscles

Who is at risk of developing this condition?

Anyone is at risk of developing this condition including children, who have been immobile for a period of time. Common causes of prolonged immobilisation include:

  • People with bone fractures
  • People who have suffered a major stroke, resulting in paralysis
  • Spinal-cord injuries resulting in paralysis
  • Men and women who have become bedridden due to ageing,
  • People who suffer clinical depression and who may not have the motivation to participate in physical activity
  • People who lose mobility due to multiple sclerosis
  • Peoplein the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of advanced dementia

How can disuse osteoporosis be prevented or reversed?

The basis of preventing and reversing disuse osteoporosis is to keep the affected area mobile. In some cases this would involve working within a physiotherapist program to manually stimulate activity in the muscles and joints.  Provided there is enough movement in the immobile area, this may be sufficient to prevent this diseaseoccurring. If the cause of the immobility is temporary, it is particularly important that the patient reinstates normal weight-bearing activities as soon as possible. Weight-bearing activities include walking, swimming and climbing stairs.

The importance of a calcium rich, nutritionally balanced diet

In order to support the formation of bone mineral density, people with disuse osteoporosis should follow the same dietary and lifestyle recommendations for osteoporosis and osteopenia sufferers.

Dietary recommendations

Ensure that you eat foods from the following categories on a daily basis:

  • Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines and anchovies
  • Fruits and vegetables including avocados, oranges, tomatoes, raisins, broccoli, spinach, beansprouts, cabbage, turnip and watercress
  • Dairy products such as milk, yoghurts and cheese. Low-fat versions of these products contain slightly more calcium than their full-fat versions.
  • Nuts including almonds, pistachio, hazelnuts, cashew, walnuts,Brazil nuts, pecans and peanuts

Foods, drinks and activities to avoid

Do not smoke

Do not consume large amounts of alcohol

Steer clear of caffeinated products including tea, coffee, sodas, cocoa, sports and energy drinks, dark and milk chocolate,

Don’t eat salt and products containing high salt levels such as canned products, foods in brine,  packet sauce mixes, instant gravy, potato chips, pizza, bacon, processed meats, hot dogs, hamburgers and pretzels.

Other considerations

If you feel that you have an inadequate diet with insufficient calcium, consider taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement.  Consult your doctor to have regular bone density scans to monitor the progress of your condition. Your doctor may prescribe bisphosphonates,drugs that will help you to recover bone density.  Spend time outdoors whenever possible, to allow your body to absorb vitamin D from sunlight.

If your bone density remains below the normal level, do not participate in any activities that may result in a joint injury. Until your bone density reaches normal levels, use mobility aids, such as a cane, to help alleviate stress on the weakened areas of your body.

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