Can Chiropractic Help People with Osteoporosis?
“What can I do if I have osteoporosis”
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, then if you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering what this means for your healthcare.
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Especially if you experience other symptoms like neck pain, back pain, headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, or other neuromuscular conditions.
- Is it safe for me to do exercise?
- Is it safe for me to have treatment on my neck? Or my back?
- What if I have a fall?
If you’re the type of person who is proactive with your health, then you also want to do the best possible things so that you can minimize the risk of injury even if you do have osteoporosis.
So what I want to share with you in this article, first, are to affirm some of the things that you already know about osteoporosis - mention a couple of things that you probably don’t including dispelling a few myths, and then sharing with you about how you can still take care of your body in a safe and gentle way that will allow you to enjoy a greater quality of life with or without osteoporosis.
What is the #1 most important thing to do if I have osteoporosis?
Physical, weight-bearing exercise.
In other words, it's moving your body. And it doesn’t have to be fast or hard. Simply walking counts!
If you are familiar with the expression when it comes to muscle strength, “If you don’t use it - or you abuse it - you lose it!.” The same thing goes with your bone density and osteoporosis.
It is the reason that astronauts in space lose 20% of their muscle mass in just a week!!
So if your muscle and your bones are not used, they atrophy or wither away. They must be used!!
Have you ever heard of a condition known as SARCOPAENIA?
It is very closely associated with osteoporosis and represents a loss of skeletal muscle most commonly due to disuse.
Here is why it is important for osteoporosis: if you lose your normal muscle tone, you ALSO lose some of the normal tension that is necessary for bone density. As a result, bone density can also go down!!
What this means in terms of osteoporosis is that the #1 most important thing that you can do is to exercise your physical body. And it has to be weight-bearing! Swimming is excellent exercise, and if your osteoporosis is severe enough, you may need to build up to it. However, swimming is not quite enough because of your buoyancy (which mimics anti-gravity, just like with the astronauts).
It is the reason that many occupational therapists or physical therapists recommend weight training (including ankle weights) in a pool for people with osteoporosis.
Now, is it always possible that an injury could still happen? It is possible, yes, and you must only engage in an exercise regime after consulting with your primary healthcare practitioner. Nevertheless, it is equally possible, if not more likely that you would experience an osteoporosis-related injury the less that you do.
In summary, becoming a couch-potato is the worst thing you can do with osteoporosis. You’ve gotta get up and get moving.
What if it is hard for me to exercise or even move my body?
Osteoporosis is NOT guaranteed to happen to all people just because they are getting older.
Of course, it is more common in the elderly population, but that is due to years of bone loss:
- An inadequate exercise that has led to both muscle and bone density loss
- An improper diet such as excessive caffeine, sugar, alcohol, or other mineral-depleting substances that have slowly robbed your body of its calcium stores
- Faulty metabolism including lack of essential vitamins, lack of sunlight, plus other hereditary and hormone conditions whereby your body’s normal mechanisms for building strong bone and muscle have been affected
But just because you are getting older does not guarantee that you will develop osteoporosis. It also means that you aren’t helpless to do anything about it! At the same time, I can appreciate that there may be other factors in your life that have also happened that make it more difficult for you to do the physical exercise that you need:
- It is possible that you suffered an old injury to your neck or spine that never healed correctly, and as a result of you have gone on to develop osteoarthritis or spondylosis
- It is possible that you have a hereditary condition such as rheumatoid arthritis that is like adding fuel to the fire in the osteoporosis and degenerative arthritis process
- It is possible that you experience pain in your neck, headaches, low back pain or even sciatica, which make it hard for you to do physical activities, even walking sometimes
- It is possible that you suffer a vestibular disorder such as vertigo or dizziness; and as a result, it is exceptionally difficult for you to do upright activities
- It is also possible that you experience a neurodegenerative condition that affects your nervous system such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, which can make it even more challenging
There may be an infinite number of reasons why it is difficult to do the physical activities that are necessary to improve your strength and mobility if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
If so, here is where proper care for your body comes into play. And not just the exercise side of the equation.
I’m talking about the neurological and muscular controls that allow your body to move properly.
As a metaphor, your body is a finely tuned machine that uses pulleys and levers (muscles and bones) to produce movement. The shape of the bones is what determines the types of movements possible, and the way that stress is applied on those bones is what determines how smoothly those bones move.
To use another analogy, let’s say that you are driving up the highway at 110kph … but with your transmission in second gear. Your car isn’t going to blow up. However, what you are going to do is strip the gears due to the mechanical stress, which is ultimately going to ruin your transmission.
The point I am raising if you experience osteoporosis is simple: in order for your body to move properly so that you can exercise, it is important for all the parts to be moving properly from a structural perspective.
In addition, the nerves, or electrical wires that energize and coordinate the function of your muscles also need to be firing at full capacity in order for things to work as well as possible.
Here is where things such as chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, osteopathy, and other forms of physical care for your body come into play. That is why they are so important.
At the same time, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may be wondering if these types of care are safe for you.
The short answer is, “yes.” provided that your provider takes the proper steps to adapt the treatment for your body. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to make you do jump squats or to push hard in the middle of your back where things “crack” hard into place.
So how can you get the benefits of body care while at the same time minimizing the risk?
Here is where a unique approach to healthcare - one that focuses on the health and function of your upper neck - may be able to help you.
How can upper cervical care help people with osteoporosis?
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is important to have a strategy to combat the bone and muscle loss.
It is just as important to have a strategy for taking care of your physical body so that you are able to move and exercise it.
Here is where an approach known as Blair upper cervical care may be able to help you.
Upper cervical care is a unique form of healthcare that focuses on the alignment and motion for the two vertebrae at the top of your neck, called the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2). These two vertebrae support the position of your head, and they also protect your brainstem and spinal cord, which are the master control centers for everything in your body.
Every muscle movement, every sensation, and every organ function ultimately processes through this vital area of your body.
So if either of these vertebrae is not quite sitting properly, it can cause a shift in your center of gravity that affects your entire body from top-down.
The resulting shift may ultimately lead to abnormal function of the nerves throughout your body, and also abnormal wear through the joints of your lower spine.
And it is it so important for your spine to be able to move properly - and also that is received the right amount of nerve control - it is imperative for these two bones at the very top to be properly aligned.
So what the purpose of upper cervical care is not a treatment for osteoporosis. What it is is a treatment to ensure proper alignment and motion of the bones in the top of your neck for the purpose of facilitating normal body function. Because when your body is best able to move, it is better able to heal.
How does upper cervical care work?
If you have never heard of Blair upper cervical care before, I am not surprised. There are a total of 5 practitioners in all Australia using this method at the time of this writing (and we are the only practice with active advanced certification not just in Brisbane, but in all Australia).
Blair upper cervical is actually a unique division from general chiropractic that does not use spinal manipulation, twisting or cracking.
Especially because we are concerning ourselves with something delicate such as osteoporosis, let me say that again: Blair upper cervical care does NOT involve any twisting, cracking, popping, or spinal manipulation.
This different approach to chiropractic was researched and developed in the USA and has been practiced with an excellent track record for over 50 years.
1. Symptomatic reactions occurred in 31% of people with the majority being self-limiting (<48 hours) and minor such as neck soreness, headache, lightheadedness or fatigue.
These are common and often normal responses when CHANGE happens in the body, but also take note that what this also means is that 69% of people report feeling just fine aftercare!
2. Intense reactions occurred in only 5.1% of people. Again, none were reported as being permanent.
3. Moreover, the 83 chiropractors included in the study were interviewed if they had ever seen a case of stroke of vertebral artery direction following a specific upper cervical chiropractic correction. In their careers representing a combined 5 million patient visits, there was not one reported case of any serious or permanent injury following an adjustment.
One if the major concerns for people with osteoporosis is that of fracture. That by pushing on the spine too hard that it can cause the bones to break.
If doing full spine manipulation, yes, this is a potential concern.
However, with the upper cervical work - because care is focused on the top bones of the neck, and in a very precise manner - we do not need to use near the amount of force that is commonly used.
Try this: can you go ahead and feel your pulse on your wrist or your neck?
A Blair upper cervical uses approximately the same amount of force to make the correction that you would use to feel your pulse. That is it! And even with osteoporosis, it nearly always takes MUGH MORE FORCE THAN THAT TO CAUSE INJURY.
The difference and how a Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor is able to use such little force is in the detailed approach that is used to determine the type of care that you need.
Before starting care, at our upper cervical chiropractic practice in North Lakes (north Brisbane), we always before a physical, neurological, and also 3D x-ray exam FIRST. In this way, we are able to take unique views that allow us to see the exact direction and degree of misalignment in your neck.
When we know that, the correction we make is more like slipping a key into a lock: at just the right angle, it needs only the tiniest force to unlock.
Typically, an upper cervical chiropractic doctor does not make adjustments lower in the spine. That is because the principle we are working on is that your body is a self-healing, self-regulating mechanism. And because the upper neck is the master control center for the entire body, but correcting this ONE area, your body is usually able to unwind the other areas of discomfort on its own.
It’s natural. It’s drug-free. It’s light. And it’s been used on many people, including people with osteoporosis, for over 50 years with an excellent track record.
So when it comes to taking care of your body with osteoporosis, in our opinion, one of the most important things you can do to make sure that you get the best use of your body to do your exercise, is by making sure that your upper neck - your atlas (C1) and your axis (C2) - are properly aligned.
It’s as simple as that!
Where can I find a Blair upper cervical chiropractor?
Dr. Jeffrey Hannah is the senior upper cervical chiropractic doctor at Atlas Health located in North Lakes, Brisbane. Dr. Hannah is an advanced certified practitioner and instructor in the Blair upper cervical method and teaches both locally and internationally.
Our practice is the first Blair upper cervical chiropractic clinic in Brisbane. It is our passion and purpose to bring this unique form of healthcare to people around the country, who may be able to benefit from what it has to offer them.
Atlas Health Australia is the premier upper cervical health center for communities around Brisbane, which include Albany Creek, Aspley, Bridgeman Downs, Brighton, Bulimba, Burpengary, Cashmere, Chandler, Dakabin, Dayboro, Griffin, Hawthorne, Indooroopilly, Kalinga, Mango Hill, Narangba, New Farm, Newport, Newstead, North Harbour, North Lakes, Samford, Scarborough, Shorncliffe, South Brisbane, Spring Hill, Teneriffe, Toowong, and West End.
We also serve many people who travel from the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, from across Queensland, and even interstate.
Because so many of our clients travel in order to attend our clinic, there is a special offer we would like to extend to you. We are happy to offer a free 15-minute consultation over the phone with Dr. Hannah so that you can get more information, discuss the particulates of your condition, ask any questions you may have, and then ultimately decide if upper cervical care is right for you.
Even if you are outside the Brisbane area, we would still be happy to chat with you to offer any direction that may be able to help you.
If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation - or if you are ready to schedule an appointment and examination with Atlas Health - feel free to email us through the Contact Us, or alternatively call us direct at the office at 07 3188 9329.
Atlas Health Australia - “A passion and purpose for helping people live a better quality of life.”
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