1. What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a term many people are familiar with – it’s when one’s bones become weak and brittle from losing too much bone (becoming too “porous” – hence the term osteoporosis), or from making too little bone. It is dangerous because weak bones are more susceptible to breaking from falls, bumps, and accidents. Also, it can affect vertebrae and lead to hunched posture, often resulting in pain. Osteoporosis is especially prevalent in women and older populations.
There are MANY causes of osteoporosis, and it can occur in conjunction with dozens of different medical conditions and medications. This is an important conversation to have with your primary care physician to see if you are putting your bone health at risk.
2. How is it treated, and how is it prevented?
Half of women over 50 who have osteoporosis will break a bone. If you know you do have osteoporosis, is your condition hopeless or is there something you can do to take care of your bones?
Osteoporosis cannot be “cured”, but there are measures one can take to treat it. Doctors sometimes prescribe medications (bisphosphonates, prolia, forteo, estrogen-like drugs, fortical, and more) that work either by preventing the breaking down of bone or by increasing the building of bone, but all come with side effects. Depending on the severity of your osteoporosis, a medication treatment may be worth discussing with your doctor. Each person is unique, and a different treatment may work better for one person than another
Nutrition is another key component of treating (and preventing) osteoporosis! Calcium is the “building block of bone”, and your body needs vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. Daily multi-vitamins are one way to ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, but here are some foods that are calcium-rich and vitamin D-rich (and don’t forget good old sunshine!) Most adults should aim for 1000-1200 mg of calcium, and 400-1000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Lastly, exercise is key for keeping your bones strong. Proper and consistent exercise not only strengthen your bone density but also will strengthen the muscles and tendons that connect to and support your bones, relieving pressure from your joints. Exercise for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis should include two types of exercise: weight-bearing exercise, and muscle-strengthening exercise.
Weight-bearing exercise puts stress on your bones - "good stress". This stress increases production of bone - increasing your bone density and mass or reducing the loss of bone mass. (If you want to learn more about how bone production and loss work check out this video on bone remodeling!) To exercise and use this "good stress" on your bones, do activities like running, walking, tennis, dancing, or anything repetitive on your feet. The impact on your bones actually makes them stronger. HOWEVER, if you suffer severe osteoporosis, you should consult your doctor about what exercises are safe for you to participate in. Running may not be the best exercise for someone with severe osteoporosis who is at a high risk of breaking a bone.
Muscle-strengthening exercise (“resistance” exercise), should be done for the whole body. If you’re just going to do a little bit, focus on complex movements and large muscle groups. Strengthening the legs, hips, and glutes are going to give you the support you need and this lower body strength may help prevent falls! Core and upper body strengthening are also important. If you already have osteoporosis, consider adding some fall-prevention exercises to your day, like balancing on one foot.
If you do not have osteoporosis now, remember that the best solution is prevention!
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
National Osteoporosis Foundation: What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? 2018;
The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research: Response to New England Journal of Medicine Study: “Biphosphonates: Where Do We Go From Here?” 2012;
Endocrine Web: The Role of Calcium and Vitamin D in Bone Health: Nutrients for Osteoporosis Prevention, P. Camacho, MD, D. Toft MD, PhD
WebMD: Osteoporosis: Diagnosis and Treatment, 2017
We all know someone who complains their joints start to hurt when it gets cold, so let’s figure out exactly what that means.
Fact or Myth: Cold weather causes your joints to hurt.
Trick question! Cold weather itself actually does not make your joints hurt but it is the drop in barometric pressure that causes your joint pain to worsen. For those who may not know, barometric pressure is just another term for atmospheric pressure or “weight of the air.” So it is not just the imagination causing people to think their joints are aching due to cold weather.
So how do we help this problem?
1. Ease the shock of cold weather on your body – dress in layers
2. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on your joints
3. Apply heat pads to the painful areas to relax the muscles
4. Stretch before going outside to loosen stiff joints so they don’t become even more stiff
5. HYDRATE! – staying hydrated helps keep inflammation away
Another important tip to focus on is not losing what you have gained in the summer and fall, try to keep working out and staying active even if it’s difficult. You will get even stiffer and it will be harder to get back to the place you were in when the weather was warmer and it will also reduce the frequency with your flare ups.
It is that time of the year again! As the leaves change and the temperature drops, those of us who hunt head off into the woods. Whether you’re a meat hunter or after that allusive trophy buck, there are a couple things to keep in mind as you prepare for hunting season. We see hunters for two different types of injuries.
The first group are the over-use or “over doing it” group. Let’s not forget what we have done for the 11 months prior to hunting season. If you are a sedentary person you can’t expect your body to respond well when you put on an extra 10-15 lbs. of gear and try to head thru the woods for miles at a time. Or more insane, trying to drag that 150 lb. deer out of the woods all by yourself. We see a lot of muscle strains and sprains from over use. Worst of all, a couple of hunters each year suffer from a heart attack while trying to overdo it. So be smart if you want to do a fair amount of walking during the hunting season. Get out and do some walking before you step out into the woods for the first time. Second, if you get that deer, get help and don’t try to drag it out of the woods by yourself.
The second group is the fall out of the tree stand group. This group is the one we see the most of in the clinic. It usually results in multiple serious injuries. There are a couple of things to keep in mind to reduce these incidents. First, inspect your equipment. For example, make sure your stand is solid, and make sure you have a safe way to get in and out of your stand. Inspect your tree, and don’t wait until the leaves are off. Check it out early in the season and make sure the tree you are using is alive, healthy, and does not have a bunch of dead limbs. Lastly, and most important, wear a harness. This is a simple thing that can save your life and prevent serious injury.
These are just a couple simple ideas to make your hunting trip safer and more enjoyable. Good luck this Fall!
By: Brian Colvin, PT
Physical therapy has been shown to be an effective means to help manage chronic pain. With today’s increasing dependence on opioid medication, there has been significant concern about dependency and addiction to these drugs. The American Physical Therapy Association has developed a white paper titled: Beyond Opioids: How Physical Therapy Can Transform Pain Management to Improve Health. The study shows how a physical therapist can identify and intervene.
Some of the risk factors that physical therapist can help identify include:
Once the contributors to someone’s pain is identified, the physical therapist can design an individualized treatment program combining the most appropriate techniques including exercise, manual therapy, and patient education.
If you’re dealing with persistent pain, whether you’re on pain medications or not, give us a call to see if we can help you manage, reduce, and eliminate your pain: 616-662-0990.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Unfortunately, knee pain is common. The good news is, many cases of knee pain can be prevented, treated, and reduced or eliminated with proper treatment and exercise!
Here are a few tips for dealing with you knee pain. Remember, knee pain has many causes, and if you’re dealing with acute pain, severe pain, or knee pain from trauma, you should see your doctor or physical therapist to find the cause of your knee pain.
Air squats Backward lunges
Glute bridges Single leg balance
Calf raises Donkey kicks
Calf stretch 1 Calf stretch 2
Quad stretch Hamstring stretch
When should you see a doctor? If your pain is new, very painful, or persistent, it is a good idea to see a doctor or physical therapist right away and get advice on what treatment you may require or what your next steps should be.
By: Lisa Bartz, Certified Exercise Physiologist (C-EP)
Steve Bartz, PT