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Osteoporosis is a common condition with an estimated 1.2 million people diagnosed in Australia and a further 6.3 million people with low bone density.  This disease makes bones more brittle leading to a higher risk of fractures than healthy bones. The condition is caused when the bones lose calcium more quickly than the body can replace them leading to a loss of bone thickness and density. Osteoporosis has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Can occur in any bone, but is commonly found in the wrist, spine and hip.  Fractures in the spine – known as wedge fractures occur in the elderly as a result of osteoporosis can result in height loss and changes in posture.

Risk Factors

• Family history of condition (hip fracture in a parent)
– Breast Cancer treated with Aromatase Inhibitors or Tamoxifen
– Prostate Cancer treated with Androgen Deprivation Therapy
• Medications that affect bone strength
• Experienced a broken bone after a minor bump or fall
– Steroid use for longer than 3 months (tablets or high-dose puffers)
• Low testosterone levels in men
• Coeliac Disease
• Hyperthyroidism or Hyperparathyroidism
• Chronic kidney or liver disease
• Low vitamin D levels

Preventing Falls:

Preventing Falls
For people with osteoporosis, preventing falls is vitally important as even a minor fall may cause a bone fracture.
Falls are most commonly caused by:

  • Poor muscle strength
  • Poor balance
  • Poor vision
  • Hazards around the home

Reducing Falls Risk:

  • GP medical review and management
  • Exercise to strengthen muscles and improve balance
  • Improve nutrition

Role of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists can help with exercises to:

  • Improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility
  • Improve bone density and
  • Reduce rate of bone density loss
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Improve physical fitness
  • Improve reaction time
  • Improve mobility
  • Reduce risk of falls

Osteoporosis Australia website:


Compression Fracture

Compression Fracture

I was asked by a patient this week if her back pain was being caused due to a Compression Fracture. (Dr. Google suggested her symptoms might be due to a compression fracture!) Given her age and type of symptoms, probably not.

So what are compression fractures and who’s at risk?

In general terms, compression fractures are a result of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is an age related condition where the bone density reduces as we age – causing weaker and brittle bones. You might have noted, when you visit a Physiotherapist we always ask about your age. We ask such questions because certain conditions are more prevalent in certain age groups. For example, it would be quite rare for a 25 year old female to be diagnosed with Osteoporosis, but a 60 year old female without a doubt will have some degree of Osteoporosis.

Compression fractures can essentially occur in any vertebral bone of the spine. However, they tend to occur most commonly in the Thoracic spine between the T10 – T12 vertebrae. Compression fractures are rarely seen above T7.

Compression fracture – Thoracic spine

Spinal Wedge Fractures

Vertebral fractures commonly result in a wedged shape vertebral body, as the bone in the front of the spine column collapses and loses height.Learn more:

Posted by Spine-health on Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Ajit Singh Lamba