Low bone density or osteopenia in medical term is a problem that commonly affects women, particularly in their middle ages and certainly after menopause. Its bone mineral density is lower than normal peak. It is estimated that 40% of all postmenopausal Caucasian women have low bone density and proportion of these women will go on to develop osteoporosis, with a high risk of bone fractures.
Bones constantly recycle themselves to maintain their strength. Old bone is absorbed by the cells in body called osteoclasts in a process known as resorption. New bone growth by cells called osteoblasts replenishes the old. The osteoblasts construct new bone material to maintain bone strength. Low bone density takes place when old bone is taken up than new bone deposited, resulting to thinning of bone or low bone density and in severe cases, may result to osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue that leads to bone fragility and an increased fractures of hip, spine, and wrist.
The association between bone density and low back pain is quite intimate. The classic condition and cause of spinal pain associated with the loss of bone density is spinal compression fracture. All bones lose strength over time and the lumbar vertebrae, particularly in postmenopausal women, can be fractured or compressed from a fall or even from the stress of lifting or everyday activities. The bone strength decreases to a point where slight trauma and sometimes, no trauma whatsoever can result in a fracture.
A compression fracture is a complete bone break that disrupts the bone tissue and collapses the affected bone. Most commonly, the site where compression fractures occur can be found on the spinal vertebral body. Pain from a vertebral compression can be severe and it may show no symptoms and only be discovered when x-rays of the spine are done for other reasons. Over time symptoms such as back pain, loss of height, and kyphosis or stooped over posture may occur. A person may experience less pain during bed rest due to the fact that sitting and standing puts weight on the vertebra and can cause pain.
Studies have shown that the likelihood of incurring additional vertebral fractures is increased once an individual has already experienced one, even if that person does not have low bone density. Research also suggests that around 20% of older women who experience spinal fracture will experience another such fracture within a year.
The normal effects of aging in relation to decreased bone mass and decreased strength and elasticity of muscles and ligaments is unavoidable. However, such effects can be slowed by keeping the muscles that support your back strong and flexible by exercising regularly, using proper body mechanics in lifting and moving, maintaining proper body weight, maintaining a proper posture, avoiding smoking, and receiving regular chiropractic care.
Most cases of low back pain respond to chiropractic treatment. A chiropractor can accurately diagnose and effectively treat most types of low back pain. DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiomery) scan is used in some cases to predict brittle bone conditions. A DEXA T-score of -1.1 to 2.4 indicates osteopenia while 2.5 or greater indicates osteoporosis. A DEXA scan can also help to identify if you are at risk, before it becomes a problem.
A newer bone imaging technology has been developed. FRAX is a computer-based algorithm that provides the 10-year probability of fractures in men and women on the basis of classic risk factors alone or by integration of classic risk factors with bone mineral density, which is measured by DEXA.
Proper diagnosis will help figure out whether a chiropractic adjustment would be beneficial as a part of back pain treatment. A lot of doctors regularly refer people with severe back pain to chiropractors. A patient can go directly to a chiropractor as referral from a doctor is not actually required. The key to such health concern is early identification and intervention. Receiving chiropractic treatment helps in the prevention of low back pain from low bone density.
Dr. Ross Carter D.C.
Chief Wellness Consultant
Discover Family Wellness Center
1860 Duluth Hwy
Lawrenceville, GA 30043