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Aging is more than skin deep— So Much Hangs on Healthy Bones

Scerbo Physical Therapy > Blog > Aging is more than skin deep— So Much Hangs on Healthy Bones

By Frank J. Scerbo, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS ///

September is Healthy Aging Month, and though getting older is inevitable, limited mobility doesn’t have to be. Maintaining healthy bones can help you stay strong and active throughout your life. Let’s talk about preventing and treating two conditions that often cause problems for older adults: osteoarthritis of the spine, and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that can affect us as we age. It involves low bone mass and thinning of the bone structure, making bones fragile and more likely to fracture or break. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men over the age of 50 are affected by osteoporosis.

Some people are more at risk for osteoporosis than others. Not all risk factors can be changed, but healthy habits and a proper exercise routine designed by your ScerboPT specialist can keep your bones healthier and reduce your risk of debilitating fractures. (See also our Fall Risk Screening and Conditioning Program).

Some of the known risk factors of osteoporosis include:

  • Being older, especially over 65
  • Being female, and less commonly men
  • Heredity
  • In the US, people who are Caucasian, Asian, or Latino
  • Low body weight (small and thin)
  • A diet low in calcium and vitamin D
  • History of broken bones
  • Menopause
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Certain medications, diseases, and other medical conditions

Physical therapists can help prevent osteoporosis and treat its effects by designing individualized programs of simple exercises that benefit bone health, improve posture, and enhance core stability and balance.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the spine generally happens as we age and is typically diagnosed after age 50. It may be caused by injury to the spine, wear and tear on the discs of the spine (often associated with obesity), or an inherited tendency to develop OA. However, a specific cause is sometimes unknown.

OA of the spine may cause pain and stiffness, and make it difficult to bend over, perform weight-bearing activities, such as walking, and accomplish daily tasks such as dressing and bathing. But you don’t have to live with chronic pain and decreased independence. Your Scerbo physical therapist can improve the way you move and help reduce your back or neck symptoms. Your therapy will target specific areas that need strengthening and create a plan that focuses on everyday movements.

For healthy bones, it is important to maintain a physically active lifestyle and eat a balanced diet with plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and perhaps other supplements as needed. And if you’re already experiencing osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, your Scerbo Physical therapist will help you manage your condition, lessen your discomfort, avoid falls, and get moving again.

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