With 54 million people over the age of 50 being at risk of breaking a bone in the US alone according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, everyone should be concerned about their bone health. In particular, those with Parkinson’s disease should pay special attention to their bone health and focus on ways to enhance and improve it.
This is because individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease are more likely to get osteoporosis, a disease that affects the bones, making them more brittle and prone to breaking. Those with Parkinson’s also absorb nutrients like calcium less effectively. This may cause bones to become thinner, which raises the possibility of a fall and bone fractures or breaks.
Professor of Neurology Marios Politis knows this all too well as a result of his extensive research into neurodegenerative disorders for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Assessing Bone Density
Assessing bone density – and, if necessary, correcting low bone density – is a crucial element of managing someone with Parkinson’s Disease that is sometimes disregarded. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), sometimes referred to as bone densitometry, is a straightforward test used to determine bone density, while the density of the bones in the hip and spine may be determined using X-ray equipment.
Osteoporosis, which means ‘porous bones’, can be identified via these tests depending on the level of mineralization of the bones. Patients with Parkinson’s disease should have their bone mineral density checked, as studies have shown that these individuals have lower bone mineral densities than age-matched controls.
Exercise to Improve Bone Health
Exercise and weightbearing activities are essential for maintaining bone strength. Exercises that are weightbearing make individuals work against gravity. They include running, trekking, tennis and dancing.
Bone strength can also be increased by resistance training, such as weightlifting. To get the best results, patients should consider working with a personal trainer who has a good understanding of Parkinson’s disease.
Medications to Improve Bone Health
There are several treatments for osteoporosis that can increase bone mineralization and lower fracture risk. A doctor may suggest that individuals take prescription drugs to enhance bone mineralization such as bisphosphonates, which slow the breaking down of the bones. Another widely prescribed drug to improve bone health is teriparatide, an hormone that increases bone density.