When you first learn that you have osteoporosis, you may become anxious. This is especially the case if the diagnosis results from what’s called a low trauma fracture. This means that you broke a bone after an accident that seemed minor or even after no accident at all. If this happens to you, you probably take extra measures to avoid breaking more bones. You might feel that you need to abandon activities that are essential to a good quality of life because of your fear of breaking a bone. You might stop your regular exercise routine or avoid walking outside to prevent falls and broken bones. You may even avoid going to the mall or to the movies where you could be bumped or pushed.
If this is the case, it’s important that you try to manage this anxiety and not allow osteoporosis to interfere with your regular activities. Try and find ways that you can continue to do the things you enjoy. This is critical to maintaining a good quality of life.
Physical activity has many benefits to your bones, muscle strength and overall health. Physical activity can also have a positive impact on your mental health. While people with osteoporosis will need to modify exercises and movements to prevent fractures, there are many exercises that can be done safely. See if you can get a referral from your doctor to work with a physical therapist (PT). A PT, who has experience working with osteoporosis patients, can help you develop a safe exercise program.
Walking is also a great form of physical activity, as long as you take the appropriate measures to avoid falls. Don’t walk in bad weather or when visibility is poor. Wear secured rubber or other non-slip soles. Take a cane if you need one. Bring a friend or family member if you can.
When you go to the mall, movies or other crowded places, try to go during less busy times. If you find that going out is too overwhelming, tiring or causes back pain, try to take breaks as often as necessary. Don’t do too much at one time. Many people find they can still enjoy the same activities if they break them down into smaller segments.
Unfortunately, people who have already broken a bone due to osteoporosis are more likely to break bones in the future. For many, that second fracture can lead to depression. Several studies show a link between bone loss and depression. Symptoms of depression may include a loss of appetite or eating too much, having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, feelings of uselessness, helplessness and hopelessness and even thoughts of suicide. If you experience these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor. There is no reason for people with osteoporosis to suffer unnecessarily from depression. Medications and counseling are available to help treat depression. Although we do not know always know which condition comes first, we do know that both osteoporosis and depression need to be managed.
Osteoporosis can affect your posture and appearance. Unfortunately, a youthful appearance is important to many of us. Osteoporosis can cause physical changes that exaggerate the appearance of aging. The most obvious change is in the curvature that sometimes occurs in the upper spine from fractures. This curve is called kyphosis. Kyphosis can also cause the stomach to stick out as well as other problems. Despite the fact that kyphosis occurs in many older women, little has been done to understand or control its impact. Clothes are not designed to accommodate these posture changes. And, as people see the ways osteoporosis changes their bodies, they can experience diminished self-esteem.