54 million Americans have low bone density or osteoporosis. One in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. This is over 2 million broken bones each year in the U.S. with many of these individuals never receiving treatment for their condition to avoid another fracture. The global estimate of individuals with osteoporosis is over 200 million.
Family history for fracture is a well-known risk factor for low bone density, but there is also significant influence from diet, exercise and lifestyle choices beginning in childhood and adolescence, with continued impact throughout adult life. Certain medical conditions and medications used to treat common medical issues can further increase risk. There is frequent failure to investigate the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Nearly 80% of older Americans who suffer bone breaks are not tested or provided with the long term care that this chronic condition requires.
The opportunities for intervention from physical therapy exist long before the first fracture: assessment of risk factors, patient education in safe movement, postural alignment, exercise prescription for weight bearing and targeted resistive exercise, fall prevention strategies, and more. As physical therapists, we are vital members of the multidisciplinary team to encompass the full scope of therapy interventions throughout the lifespan.
APTA Geriatrics has a Special Interest Group dedicated to providing resources to professionals for optimal care to their patients with conditions related to osteoporosis. Please visit our website for links to the recent Clinical Practice Guideline and other significant evidence for management of patients with osteoporosis, BoneFit training opportunities, patient educational resources and more. Our goal is to promote, maintain and preserve bone health, especially for older adults. We deliver evidence-based services to reduce age-related bone loss and fracture risk in the patients we serve every day. We welcome your contributions to our work.