Chiropractic as a Treatment for Osteoporosis
By Dr. Molly Casey
There are 206 bones in the adult human skeleton. Bones are living tissue, which sounds funny doesn’t it? We often think of tissue being soft, and bones being hard, but it’s true: Bone is living tissue. As such, there are ways in which we can feed the health of bones -- the living tissue -- and there are ways in which we can harm it. Although it’s not normal, it’s common that some of my patients deal with osteoporosis. Frequently, patients will question whether they can get adjusted if they have it, or whether chiropractic care can help in any way.
The short answer: Yes.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that’s characterized by the loss of bone density. In other words, certain bones have decreased strength in comparison to other bones. Osteopenia is the precursor to osteoporosis; this is when bone strength has been lost but it’s not to the degree that calls for a label of osteoporosis. How does the decrease in bone density affect you? When bones are less dense, they aren’t as strong as they should be, which means they are more easily fractured. In this case, regular activities of daily life such as walking, or a small trip up a curb, may actually cause a broken bone. The main diagnostic tool is called a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA scan) and it estimates the density/strength of the bone and risk of fracture.
Does it matter to you? Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in humans. The bones most commonly affected are the hips, wrists and spine, along with the pelvis and femur. It affects both men and women of all ages. Postmenopausal women should particularly pay attention to this aspect of their health as one of the major risk factors is the decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause. Genetics play a role, as do lifestyle and hormone levels. Lifestyle elements that are important in the prevention of osteoporosis are appropriate levels of exercise (particularly weight training), proper levels of animal protein intake and a balanced diet supporting acid/base equilibrium, Vitamin D levels, smoking cessation and low levels of alcohol consumption.
Osteoporosis and Chiropractic Care
Bones are constantly being broken down and replaced; it’s the normal process of the living tissue. When osteoporosis is present, the breaking down of the normal process is occurring at a faster rate than the replacement; decreased density and strength is the result. That can sound a bit daunting and you may ask why are you, Dr. Molly, writing about this?
One really cool (I think) aspect of the chiropractic adjustment, beyond its effect on joint motion and the central nervous system, is the effect it has on the process of bone breakdown and replacement. A chiropractic adjustment stimulates the cells that are in charge of replacing bone (osteoblasts). So when one receives a chiropractic adjustment, they are not only improving joint motion and the health of their nervous system, they are also giving a positive boost to the strength of their bones. Getting adjusted supports the health of your bones and prevention of osteoporosis, as well as assists in the process of reversing it. Please note if you have active osteoporosis, certain adjustments may be modified until the strength of the bones have improved; it does not, however, preclude you from being able to get adjustments.
Have you wondered about the health of your bones? Do you know someone who suffers from osteopenia or osteoporosis? If you want to increase the functioning of your nervous system, improve your overall health, and strengthen your bones all in one simple action, then come on by The Joint Chiropractic. Doctors at The Joint would love to see you and help you reach your health goals!
Dr. Molly Casey is a Doctor of Chiropractic who practices in the Los Angeles area. She works twice a week at The Joint Chiropractic in Glendale, CA.