Out with Osteoporosis

People with spinal-cord injury (SCI) are more prone to osteoporosis — learn why it happens and how to slow the process

Osteoporosis can be found in patients as early as six weeks after a SCI. It’s most common in patients who use wheelchairs below their point of injury for one main reason: Those bones are no longer weight-bearing, therefore they are not being impacted.

The inside of a bone looks like webbing, or lattice. When we use our bones and put weight on them, the latticework gets denser, impacting the bone and making it stronger. Of course there are other causes of osteoporosis such as calcium or vitamin D deficiency, but the lack of use is the main cause for people with SCI.

The more severe the osteoporosis, the higher chance you have of fracturing or even breaking those bones while transferring, accidently bumping into a wall, etc. Although you may not have the opportunity to impact those bones and entirely prevent osteoporosis, you can manage and help control the severity of it. Health care professionals at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo. suggest the following methods:


  • Increase physical activity – get out and get moving anyway you can, especially any weight-bearing or resistance exercises that can be done safely.
  • Eat a healthful, balanced diet – make sure you are getting calcium (dairy, shellfish, etc.) and vitamin D (from the sun, fish, leafy green vegetables, etc.).
  • Quit smoking – smoking contributes to bone loss and osteoporosis.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake – consuming to much alcohol and/or caffeine also leads to bone loss and osteoporosis.
  • Talk to your doctor – there may be a medication available to treat your osteoporosis.
  • Be careful – watch where you are rolling to avoid slamming your feet into anything, take your time while transferring and make sure your feet are out of heel loops or toe straps, and check your body regularly to make sure you don’t have any injuries like broken or fractured bones marked by swelling or bruising.


For more information, visit craighospital.org


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