Osteoporosis is a type of disease that is known for decreasing the density of the bones. As a result of this decrease, the bones start to become brittle and exceptionally weak. This means that the bones have an increased risk of breaking easily. It is often identified as a “silent disease”; however, certain symptoms may occur. These include pain, the development of a hump in the back region, and even a loss in overall height. If you specialize in physical therapy and would like to assist those with this troublesome disease, you will want to specialize on osteoporosis rehabilitation and prevention.

osteoperosis physical therapy

What is Osteoporosis Rehabilitation and Prevention?

Osteoporosis rehabilitation and prevention is a type of physiotherapy that works to prevent the development of osteoporosis and assist those with the condition in the management of the disease. Along with geriatric therapy, osteoporosis can help aging adults. As a physical therapist, you will work with each patient on an individual basis, creating an individualized exercise program that is designed to strengthen both the muscles and the bones within the body. The exercise regimen created will be designed to become effective over the course of weeks or months.

While offering your services to patients, you will evaluate and treat for various types of movement-related irregularities. These may stem from underlying health conditions, previous injuries or traumas, and even from the natural aging process. You will access the symptoms and the pain levels of your patients. This is done through questioning and through physical tests that you have the patients perform. You will then create a custom exercise program that the patients may engage in under your supervision and at home on their own.

What are the Educational Requirements for Osteoporosis Rehabilitation and Prevention PT?

To specialize in osteoporosis rehabilitation and prevention, you will typically be required to obtain a doctorate degree within the field of physical therapy. Immediately thereafter, you will need to pass an examination issued by the national licensing board created for licensing. In most instances, this will take about three years. You may be required to have an undergraduate degree prior to being able to work in this line of work. You will definitely require a license – at the minimum. The requirements to perform with osteoporosis rehabilitation and prevention patients will be determined by your state. You must consult with the appropriate professionals to determine what these requirements are in your location.

What Types of Procedures or Activities Do PTs in Osteoporosis Encourage?

As a physical therapist that specializes in osteoporosis, you will encourage many procedures or activities to your patients. These often come in the way of stretches and a wide assortment of exercises. Most often, you will have your patient perform these in a repetitive manner or through what is called “sets”. Other procedures and activities that you may encourage include the following:

  • Making Recommendations About Changes in Lifestyle
  • Massage Therapy Techniques
  • Heat Therapy
  • Cold Therapy
  • Ultrasound Technology Therapy
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Aquatic Therapy/Hydrotherapy
  • Dry Needling
  • Manual Therapy
  • Motion Training
  • Gait Training
  • Edema Control
  • Floor Exercises
  • Stabilization/Balance Exercises

Who Needs Osteoporosis Physical Therapy?

There are many types of patients that need osteoporosis physical therapy. These include:

  • Those that have received an official osteoporosis diagnosis
  • Individuals that have suffered a fracture as a result of osteoporosis
  • Older adults that have a family history associated with osteoporosis
  • People that have underlying health conditions that could detrimentally impact the general health of the bones throughout the body
  • Those that have a high risk of developing osteoporosis in the future

What is Osteoporosis Screening?

Osteoporosis screening is a test that is designed for certain individuals. In most instances, women who are either postmenopausal and have specific risk factors and those over the age of 65. This is a routine screening that combines imaging technology and a trained eye to determine the presence of osteoporosis within the body.

Who is at Risk for Osteoporosis?

There are numerous risk factors for osteoporosis. These include the following:

  • A history of fractures within the lifetime
  • A history of being prescribed and taking certain medications – such as heparin and/or prednisone
  • Having an underlying medical condition that detrimentally impacts the health of the bones – such as chronic renal failure
  • Having a very low overall body mass
  • Having lifestyle habits that could detrimentally impact the bones – such as smoking or consuming alcohol on a regular basis
  • Having a personal family history where close relatives suffered from osteoporosis

How Does Osteoporosis Screening Work?

Osteoporosis screening has many different approaches. Most commonly, a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry is performed. This is also identified as a “DXA” or “DEXA”. Both of these procedures are non-invasive and each only use a small dose of radiation. If a patient is pregnant, have certain types of hardware within the body, or have any type of medical implant, they must inform their doctor to the scanning technician prior to having the screening performed. Other tools that may help in the screening process include peripheral DEXA, quantitative ultrasound, basic x-rays, and even FRAX – an online evaluation tool.

How Do Physical Therapists Help Patients Prevent Osteoporosis?

There are several techniques that you can use as a physical therapist in osteoporosis to assist patients in preventing the issue from developing. These include the following:

  1. First, advise the patient that they should refrain from smoking and/or consuming alcohol.
  2. Next, instruct the patient in consuming a diet that holds high levels of nutritional value. For example, low-fat calcium products, vegetables, and fruits should be placed in the diet and high-fat, high-calorie, and processed foods should be eliminated from the diet.
  3. You may recommend that the patient talks to their doctor about the medications that they are prescribed and inquire as to whether they are still needed or if lower dosages may be taken in order to preserve the general health of the bones.
  4. You will encourage your patient to engage in physical activities that are good for their bone health on a regular basis. The same exercise regimen will not be given to every patient. It must be customized on a patient-to-patient basis.
  5. You may also make recommendations on sleeping patterns and other aspects of the health.

How Do Physical Therapists Determine the Exercises for Patients?

There are many factors that will go into determining what exercises are best for your patients. The following are the most common:

  • You will consider what health condition or injury the patient is being treated for
  • You will consider the underlying conditions that the patient currently has or are at risk for developing
  • You will gauge the patient’s general level of health
  • You will need to determine how much activity the patient engages in in their day-to-day lives or through their job
  • You will also need to evaluate the patient’s goals as it pertains to the physical therapy sessions and their general level of health to ensure the best possible outcome

Get Connected

As a physical therapist that specializes in osteoporosis rehabilitation and prevention, it is imperative that you have a solid network within your industry in order to ensure the best outcomes for your patients. We encourage you to join us here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network. We offer the connections, tools, and resources that will help render you the highest levels of success in your business endeavors. If you own a practice, we will help streamline your business for success. To learn more about what we have to offer or to get started with us, you may contact us today. Simply call the following number: 303-757-7004

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