About osteoporosis and fractures

Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that causes a reduction in bone density, or thinning of the bones, resulting in an increased risk for bone weakness, fractures, and breaks. More than 40 million people in the United States either already have osteoporosis or are at a high risk for developing it due to low bone mass. 
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation:
  • 1 in 2 women over 50 will fracture a bone because of osteoporosis 
  • 1 in 4 men over 50 will fracture a bone because of osteoporosis
  • In women over 45, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in the hospital than diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer. 
  • Due to the previous lack of focus on bone health, the number of hip fractures in the United States could be tripled by 2020. 
  • 25 percent of those who fracture a hip die within six months of the injury.

How to prevent falls at home

There are a number of opportunities around the home for slips, trips and falls that can result in painful fractures. You can avoid injury at home with the following tips:
  • Add handrails on both sides to any staircases inside and outside the home
  • Add lights to staircases and any dark areas of the house
  • Remove loose throw rugs from the floor
  • Replace current light bulbs with brighter light bulbs
  • Remove clutter around your home
  • Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach without a step stool
  • Wear well-fitting shoes with good support inside and outside the house

Flexibility and balance

One of the ways to stay healthy and strong is to get regular exercise and improve your flexibility. Being more active and flexible helps with your mobility and posture, which can assist in preventing falls. Regular exercise can even help strengthen your bones and reduce your risk for chronic non-impact injuries, such as spinal and hip fractures.

Prior to beginning any exercise program, it is important to speak with your doctor first. Exercise programs should be initiated and monitored by a mobility specialist such as a physical therapist (PT) or occupational therapist (OT). 
All exercises and activities should be painless. If pain occurs, stop exercise immediately, and call your doctor if it persists or worsens.

General flexibility exercises

Head movements
Stand up tall and look ahead. Slowly turn your head as far as it can go to the right, then to the left. Repeat five times to each side.

Neck movements
Stand up tall and look ahead. Place one hand on your chin and guide your head straight back. Repeat five times. 

Back extension
Stand up tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the small of your back and gently arch it. Repeat five times. 

Trunk movements
Stand up tall and place your hands on your hips. Without moving your hips, slowly turn as far as you comfortably can to the right, then the left. Repeat five times to each side. 

Ankle movements
Either stand or sit with one leg raised. Pull the toes of the raised foot toward you, then point them down. Repeat 10 times for each foot.

General strengthening exercises

Front knee strengthening exercise
Sit in a chair and strap an ankle weight to your ankle. With your back well-supported, straighten the weighted leg out, then lower it. Repeat 10 times for each ankle. 

Back knee strengthening exercise 
Strap an ankle weight onto your ankle. Stand up tall with both hands on a table. Bend the knee of your weighted leg, bringing the foot toward your bottom, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times for each leg. 

Side hip strengthening exercise
Strap an ankle weight onto your ankle. Stand up tall beside a table and support yourself on it with one hand. Keeping the weighted leg straight and the foot facing straight ahead, lift the leg out to the side and return. Repeat 10 times for each leg. 

Calf raises 
Stand up tall, facing a table, and hold onto the edge. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and look ahead. Come up onto your toes and then bring your heels back to the ground. Repeat 10 times for each foot. 

Toe raises 
Stand up tall, facing a table, and hold onto the edge. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and look ahead. Come back onto your heels, raising your toes off the floor, and then lower them back to the ground. Repeat 10 times. 

General balance exercises

Knee bends
Stand up tall, facing a table, and hold onto the edge. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down halfway, bending your knees. Allow them to track over the toes. When your heels start to lift, straighten up. Repeat 10 times. 

Backward walking
Stand up tall and hold onto a table. Walk backward 10 steps. Turn around and hold onto the other hand, and walk backward 10 steps to your starting point. Repeat. 

Sideways walking
Stand up tall near a table and place your hands on your hips. Take 10 steps to the right, then the left. Repeat. Use the table for support if needed. 

Heel toe standing
Stand up tall beside a table. Hold on with one hand and look ahead. Place one foot directly in front of the other foot so your feet form a straight line. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then switch feet. Hold this position for 10 seconds. 

Heel toe walking
Stand up tall beside a table. Hold on with one hand and look ahead. Place one foot directly in front of the other foot so your feet form a straight line. Place one foot directly in front of the other and repeat for 10 steps. Turn around and repeat. 

One leg stand
Stand up tall beside a table. Hold on with one hand and look ahead. Stand on one leg, hold for 10 seconds, then turn around and repeat on the other leg.