Coping With the Chronic Pain of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is likely to affect men over 70 and women over 50 and can result in serious and life-changing fractures if not treated. Osteoporosis occurs when calcium and phosphate leave the bones and are reabsorbed in the body, leaving the bones thinner and weaker. Osteoporosis in women is sometimes caused by an estrogen shortage during menopause and in men a drop in testosterone.
Fragile bones eventually result in a fracture of some type, and when the disease is in the later stages, those fractures can be very serious. Fractures in seniors can lead to extreme pain and loss of mobility as well as negative changes in lifestyle. Even after the fractures heal, pain may remain and the issue then is to try and cope with it as much as possible.
The chronic pain and problems of osteoporosis can occur in the form of stiffness and weakness, muscle tension and spasms. Your doctor can order a bone density test to see if you have osteoporosis and determine how severe it is. Then, she can help you manage the pain in a number of ways that’s best for you.
Some ways to manage osteoporosis pain are:
- Regular exercise Exercise releases natural pain killers called endorphins from the brain. Engaging in a regular exercise program also helps you build your strength and increases energy, makes you more flexible and builds muscles that protect the fragile bones among many other benefits.
- Massage A therapeutic massage therapist can do wonders for the pain caused by osteoporosis. Other benefits include relaxation and increasing blood supply. Be sure to tell your massage therapist if you have osteoporosis and he or she can adjust the pressure so that your spine won’t be affected.
- Hot and cold packs Cold packs can relieve pain by anesthetizing nerves in the painful area(s). Taking a warm bath or shower or adding warmth to the pain area can loosen stiff muscles. Try both of these methods to see which works best for your pain.
- Acupuncture An acupuncturist might be able to relieve pain associated with osteoporosis by inserting specially-developed needles at specific body areas. The needles cause the brain to release endorphins.
- TENS Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation are small mechanisms that are sometimes used to send electrical currents to the area where pain occurs, preventing pain transmissions to be sent to the brain. These devices are small and can be fastened to a belt for uninterrupted relief.
The chronic pain suffered with osteoporosis can affect victims emotionally as well as physically and could cause depression, isolation and hopelessness. Seniors suffering from osteoporosis may feel despondent and withdraw from life, so it’s very important to be tested and treated for the chronic pain that may occur.