Quality of Life with Osteoporosis
How is your quality of life with osteoporosis? Maybe before you can answer that question you need to know a thing or two about quality of life (QOL) and how it might be affected by osteoporosis. The World Health Organization has an official (yet, boring) definition that sets the stage for this discussion:
_ “(QOL) is an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. It is a broad-ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person’s physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships and their relationship to salient features of their environment.”_
If you think this definition sounds confusing, try measuring someone’s quality of life. That is exactly what scientist try to do when measuring treatment efficacy. If a treatment does not help improve someone’s quality of life, then it is not very effective. So, we need to measure QOL based on some broad categories of what might fill someone’s happiness jar. According to the WHO those categories are: Physical Health, Psychological Health, Level of Independence, Social Relations, Environmental Factors, and Beliefs. Every individual has slightly different variations of what constitutes a “good life”, but most things fit into one of those six categories. Let’s take a look at some specific quality of life factors that might be particularly affected by osteoporosis.
Pain is a major determinant of QOL. When osteoporosis causes painful fractures, especially of the spine, hips, and legs, all of the broad categories that constitute someone’s happiness can be hampered. Pain limits the ability to sleep, pain creates negative feelings, pain destroys independence and a person’s social well-being. Pain can limit access to the environment and challenge someone’s belief system. Quite simply, pain can destroy quality of life.
Perception of Body Image is a psychological factor that can also be undermined by osteoporosis. Those who have lost body height or normal posture may look in the mirror and feel bad. Your physical appearance effects how you feel about yourself and your self-esteem. The structure supplied by the bones can be severely disrupted by osteoporosis; thus, your “perception of (your) position in life” can be compromised.
Mobility is another quality-of-life determinant that suffers when you have osteoporosis. We all know that a bone fracture can limit mobility, but so can fear. Fear of fractures causes avoidance of activities. Those activities might include activities of daily living like bathing or cooking, not to mention advanced activities of daily living like grocery shopping. Other activities might also include sexual activities and relations. How about social activities? Because we lead active lives, mobility is crucial to a happy life. Your active life-style can be compromised by osteoporosis.
Freedom within your environment also helps to determine your quality of life. If your house has stairs, then going up the stairs to your bedroom could be rather difficulty with a broken back. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, driving to the store might be tough with a broken hip. If you live in a hilly neighborhood, then taking a walk might be challenging if you fear falling down and breaking a bone. Osteoporosis might be limiting your freedom to live happily.
Like any disease, osteoporosis might be penetrating your life in many negative ways. This negativity can greatly erode the way you feel about your life. I am not talking about bursting a fairytale bubble. I am talking about the destruction of a basic, simple life that makes you happy and satisfied. Through the process of studying how osteoporosis affects quality of life, scientists have discovered that exercise can improve quality of life via improved balance and mobility. Scientists have also discovered that medications can improve quality of life via improved pain control and independence. With a better understanding about the way osteoporosis changes your life, you too might be able to find solutions to improve your quality of life.
Getting back to our original question, please share with us how osteoporosis is affecting your quality of life?
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.