Osteoporosis, which is characterized by loss of bone density, is a condition more commonly found in women than men. The condition progresses silently over a number of years and often becomes recognized only when the patient suffers a fracture of one of the weakened bones anywhere in the body. In the spine, the disease is often discovered after a compression fracture occurs- that is, the “flattening” or “wedging” of a bone. The pain can be intense and is felt when one is standing and relieved when one is lying down.
The two major protections against osteoporosis are exercise and hormones (estrogen in women and testosterone in men). The best exercises are weight-bearing exercises like the ones in the Hidden Core Workout in The End of Back Pain. Running is a better stimulant for bone production than walking, while walking is better than swimming. After starting a program of exercise, most patients who are at risk for osteoporosis should start on a vitamin D supplement and consider a calcium supplement as well. Lifestyle adaptations that can be helpful in preventing osteoporosis include quitting smoking and lowering alcohol consumption.
Learn more about a specialized exercise program to relieve, control, and even prevent chronic pain in The End of Back Pain by Patrick Roth, M.D.