Bone Health Program

Osteoporosis causes brittle bones in more than 28 million Americans. These brittle bones often lead to painful fractures that require hip reconstruction and challenging rehabilitation. Osteoporosis also can cause loss of height, restricted mobility, and a humped back.

The Bone Health Program at St. Francis can help. The program has two tracks: one that helps those with osteoporosis build bone mass and prevent fractures, and one that helps maintain current bone density to prevent osteoporosis.

Our program is led by a multidisciplinary advisory council that works together to determine the best course of treatment for those at risk for osteoporosis. The council consists of physicians specializing in OB-GYN, spine surgery, family medicine, and pain management.

Preventing Bone Loss

The good news about osteoporosis is that for most people, it's preventable. Our bodies build bone density until about the age of 30, at which point bone density starts decreasing over time. To maintain strong bones, you should include enough bone-building nutrients in your diet and get regular weight-bearing exercise.

Diets including recommended amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and protein will ensure that your body has enough of the nutrients required to build bone. If you'd like to make sure your diet includes enough of these nutrients, schedule an Outpatient Nutrition Consultation with one of our registered dietitians.

Regular exercise causes muscles to pull on bones, which can help strengthen them. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, or playing tennis are great for building bones, as are resistance exercises like lifting weights.The professionals at St. Francis HealThy Self can develop custom exercise programs guided by a physician.

A bone density (DXA) scan is recommended for women 65 and older, or for younger adults with high risk factors for osteoporosis. The results from a bone density test can help your physician decide if you need to begin treatment for osteoporosis, or to see if your osteoporosis treatment is working. For more information about DXA scans, call the Imaging department at 864-675-4029.

Treating Osteoporosis

For those who are already diagnosed with osteoporosis, the Bone Health program can help prevent further bone loss. This program also is available to patients who already have endured a fracture and have been through the Osteoporotic Fracture Program.

The program starts with a bone safety evaluation that shows how osteoporosis affects everyday activities. Next, therapists develop a custom-designed program that involves physical therapy, occupational therapy, and education. Physical therapists create exercise programs to strengthen bones, help create at-home walking programs, and can put participants in touch with exercise resources like aquatic therapy.

The therapists work with participants weekly on their exercise programs, show them exercises to do at home, and educate participants on topics including:

  • How to maintain or improve bone mass
  • Preventing fractures and reducing your risk of falls
  • Strategies to lessen fatigue and pain during everyday activities
  • How to set up a walking program
  • The role of diet in bone health
  • How smoking affects bone density

Occupational therapists work with participants to reduce the risk of falls and teach balance exercises. They also teach about home safety, conserving energy during everyday tasks, and proper body mechanics. 

A physician’s referral is required to participate in these programs. Please ask your doctor for more information.