Physical Therapy for Osteoporosis

Reviewed by Isador H. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FRCSC

Because exercise is vital to strong bones, your osteoporosis treatment and/or prevention plan may include physical therapy. This should help you learn how to incorporate appropriate exercises into your life.
What you do in physical therapy is very dependent on you: the cause of your osteoporosis, your physical fitness level, your risk level for spinal fractures, and what your body can handle. Generally, though, the physical therapist will work with you to develop an exercise plan that involves weight-bearing exercises (such as walking or tennis) and strengthening exercises (such as weight lifting).

Depending on your needs, the physical therapist may also work on your balance and posture. Improved balance will help you prevent falls. Posture is important throughout your life (as your mother told you), but it's especially important if you have or could have osteoporosis. Poor posture can mean that your upper back is more rounded than it should be. A rounded back puts more pressure on your spine, increasing your risk of spinal fractures. Much like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the more it leans, the higher the likelihood of it falling over. A rounded back puts more pressure on your spine, increasing your risk of spinal fractures.

Your physical therapist may also teach you new ways to safely handle your "daily activities," such as getting in and out of bed or a chair. With weakened bones, those activities—ones you once found simple—can be challenging, and if you fall, you could fracture a bone.

Physical Therapy after a Spinal Fracture
Spinal fractures, which means that one or more of your vertebrae have a fracture, can cause you to hunch forward—or even to lose height. You do, however, need to stand and sit as straight as possible, and a physical therapist can help you learn and maintain good posture.

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