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Osteoporosis and How to Avoid it
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Osteoporosis and How to Avoid it

Osteoporosis is a condition that can be exacerbated by life in a wheelchair, especially in individuals with Spina Bifida.

Osteoporosis facts

Osteoporosis causes your bones to weaken.  It’s potentially a serious condition that can lead to your bones fracturing easily. 

In sufferers of osteoporosis the normal bone cycle is disrupted.  Instead of the old bone breaking down and being replaced with new healthy bone, new bone does not form.  This leaves the older, weaker bone which becomes more brittle and likely to breakage as you age.  Both men and women can suffer from the disease after the age of 40 although women are more prone to developing the condition after menopause. 

Anyone can develop osteoporosis and it can in fact be hereditary.  Wheelchair users are particularly vulnerable.  Add to this the use of corticosteroids for problems such as arthritis or asthma, and the risk increases.


The best way to prevent the development of osteoporosis is by adopting a healthy lifestyle.  Eat a balanced diet that’s rich in calcium.  If you don’t eat dairy products, be sure to supplement your calcium intake with vitamin and mineral supplements.  Leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli also contain calcium as do some varieties of nuts.

Try to avoid drinking too much caffeine as this can cause an imbalance of calcium in your body.  Excessive amounts of alcohol can also cause damage to bones as does smoking.

The best way of strengthening your bones is by undertaking exercises which involve an element of weight-bearing.  Standing or walking is perfect if you can do so, and it’s important to keep your wrists strong to avoid the risk of injury when you’re transferring.  Light weight lifting exercises on a daily basis are good too.  Gradually increase the effort if you can.

Detection and treatment

There’s usually no indication that you have osteoporosis until you actually break a bone.  The most common fracture sites are wrists, hips and spinal bones.  Bone mineral density testing, especially for those who use a wheelchair.  The process uses X-rays to measure the quantity of calcium and other bone minerals present in your body.  Generally speaking, high bone density means that your bones are strong and the risk of fracture is low.

Osteoporosis is treatable once it’s been diagnosed.  Your doctor will prescribe drugs to help maintain and preserve your bone density. 

The earlier you start taking the right medication, the more successful the treatment will be and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis.  

In conclusion

Osteoporosis is a dangerous and unpleasant condition.  Eat a calcium-rich diet, take light weight-bearing exercise and consult your doctor to request a bone mineral density test if you fall into a high-risk group.



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