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Physical medicine in the prevention of osteoporosis
in the 21st century
Medycyna fizykalna w profilaktyce osteoporozy
Włodzisław Kuliński
Department of Rehabilitation, Military Medical Institute, Warsaw
Division of Physical Medicine, Jan Kochanowski University, Kielce
Introduction: Physiotherapy is one of the oldest among medical specialities. Its methods are usedfor remedial and prophylactic
aim. Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases of present civilisation. Analysis of freguency of osteoporotic fracture
occurrence in different countries indicates negative influence of civilisation’s development on it. In Poland 25% of women
and 15% of men after 50 years of age have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis treatment is long-term and multidirectional. The most
important are prophylactic methods: healthy education, motor activity and physical methods.
Aim of the study: Estimation of usefulness and efficiency low-freguency alternate magnetic field (LFAMF) in the prophylaxis
of bone mass loss in patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Material and methods: subjects group 50 men with chronic spinal pain (mean age 65,2 years) treated with steroids because
of COPD and which received series procedures with LFAMF. Bone density (densimeter) and pain intensification (Laitinen’s scale)
were estimated. Study schedule : exposure time 12 minutes to thoracic spine and 10 minutes to lumbosacral spine. 40 procedures- once a day (20 days) and next twice a week for 3 months. Procedures were repeated after 3 months.
Results: After 1 year increase (1.75%) of bone density was observed in study group which received series procedure with LFAMF.
Conclusions: Good therapeutic effects in all patients treated with LFAMF indicate purposefulness of this method in osteoporosis
prophylaxis. This method should be applied in practice in wider range because of its effectiveness, easiness and no side-effects.
Key words: physiotherapy, health prophylaxis
Wstęp: Medycyna fizykalna jest najstarszą dziedziną wsród specjalności lekarskich, a stosowane metody wykorzystywane są
zarówno w celach leczniczych , jak i profilaktycznych. Jedną z głównych chorób współczesnej cywilizacji jest osteoporoza. Analiza częstości występowania złamań osteoporotycznych w różnych krajach wskazuje na negatywny wpływ rozwoju cywilizacji
na występowanie tej choroby. W Polsce osteoporozę stwierdza się u 25% kobiet i 15% mężczyzn po 50 roku życia. Leczenie
osteoporozy, schorzenia mającego charakter przewlekły i postępujący jest długotrwałe i wielokierunkowe. Najistotniejsze jest
więc wdrożenie metod mających charakter profilaktyczny, edukacja zdrowotna, właściwa aktywność ruchowa i stosowanie
metod fizykalnych.
Cel pracy: Ocena przydatności i skuteczności zmiennego pola magnetycznego niskiej częstotliwości (zpmncz) w profilaktyce
utraty masy kostnej u chorych leczonych przewlekle sterydami z powodu obturacyjnej choroby płuc (POCHP).
Materiał i metody: Badaną grupę stanowiło 50 mężczyzn (średnia wieku 65,2 lat) z przewlekłym zespołem bólowym kręgosłupa
leczonych sterydami z powodu POCHP. Oceniano gęstość kości badaniem densytometrycznym i nasilenie bólu w skali Laitinena.
Metodyka wykonywania zabiegów – czas ekspozycji 12 minut na odcinek piersiowy, 10 minut na odcinek L-S, seria 20 zabiegów
codziennie i 20 zabiegów dwa razy w tygodniu przez 3 miesiące – zabiegi powtórzono po 3 miesiącach – dwie serie w ciągu roku.
Wyniki: W grupie badanej po rocznej obserwacji stwierdzono zwiększenie gęstości tkanki kostnej o 1,75%.
Wnioski: 1. Korzystne efekty terapeutyczne uzyskane u wszystkich leczonych zpmncz potwierdzają celowość stosowania tej
metody w profilaktyce osteoporozy. 2. Wykazane działanie, łatwość wykonania zabiegów, brak objawów ubocznych przemawiają
za szerszym wdrożeniem tej metody w profilaktyce.
Słowa kluczowe: medycyna fizykalna , profilaktyka zdrowia
Acta Balneol., TOM LVI, Nr 4 (138)/2014, s. 169-172
Acta Balneologica
TOM LVI, Nr 4 (138) /2014
Włodzisław Kuliński
Health education is extremely important, especially in
patients with risk factors for osteoporosis. It is often neces-
sary to change one’s lifestyle as well as dietary habits and
introduce appropriate physical activity. Moreover, in the
case of advanced osteoporosis the patient’s environment
has to be altered in order to reduce the risk of fractures.
The measures aimed at preventing osteoporosis should
be introduced at an early age, that is in the period of the
bone mass increase, so as to achieve a high peak value of
bone mass at the age of 30-35 years. The higher the bone
mass at the age of 30, the lower the risk of fractures due to
physiological ageing in old age.
The education is best conducted during a stay at a health resort. Everyday contact with the doctor and the
staff help educate the patients who can also attend talks
given by doctors, rehabilitation specialists, and dietitians.
In addition, this place allows the patients to exchange
Appropriate diet is a basic element of osteoporosis prevention. It is crucial to convince the patient that it is necessary to follow the instructions concerning the diet, which
should be rich in calcium and vitamins while containing
limited amounts of protein, salt, and alcohol.
Apart from the diet, physical exercise is the other basic
part of osteoporosis prevention and treatment.
During skeletal growth, proper loading of the skeleton
influences the development of a large bone mass and
strong high-quality bone while proper spinal loading may
slow down the osteoporotic processes during the involutional period.
We recommend exercise improving the range of motion
in the joints, coordination, and general physical function and
gradually introduce resistance exercises. The most important
part of the treatment is proper selection of exercises and
loads, depending on the severity of osteoporosis, and adapting them to the patient’s general physical performance.
The treatment and prevention of osteoporosis involve light therapy and phototherapy using UV light which
stimulates the production of vitamin D3 in the skin. We
recommend ultraviolet-B wavelengths ranging from 280
to 315 nm.
Sunlight is the best stimulator of vitamin D synthesis, but
in our climate zone there is too little sunlight during the
5-7 colder months of the year. Consequently, in the autumn
and winter it is advised to use even a simple quartz lamp as
a preventive measure. Irradiation at a dose of 1 MED, which
is then gradually increased by 1 MED every two days, is
applied from a distance of 1 m.
A physical therapy method directly stimulating the
improvement of bone density is the use of variable low
frequency magnetic fields (VLVMF). Studies have confirmed that it accelerates bone union and facilitates the treatment of nonunion. Some publications report improved
bone mineralization in osteoporotic patients.
In osteoporosis it is recommended to use triangular
VLVMF (15 mT, 10 Hz) at the site of bone defects for 12 minutes 3 times a day during more than ten weeks.
Low- and medium-frequency electrical currents may
play a supportive role in reducing the pain and inflam-
TOM LVI, Nr 4 (138) /2014
Osteoporosis is one of the main diseases of our modern
civilization. More than 25% of women and 10% of men over
the age of 60 are diagnosed with osteoporosis. An analysis
of the prevalence of osteoporotic fractures in various countries indicates that the development of civilization has
a negative effect on the problem (1, 2, 6, 7, 8).
Our lives are dominated by:
– low physical activity,
– inappropriate diet,
– too much animal fats,
– too much carbohydrates and salt
– too little calcium,
– too little fresh fruit.
We have too much:
– alcohol, tobacco, coffee,
– stress,
– too little exposure to sunlight.
In Poland, osteoporosis is found in 25% of women and
15% of men over the age of 50. In the fifth decade of life
the spine starts undergoing involutional changes. At first,
cortical bone loss does not exceed 0.3-0.5% per year. Annual lamellar bone loss reaches 0.6-2.4% in women and
1-2% in men (3, 4, 5, 9).
Aging processes are always accompanied by the limitation of mobility and physical activity to a necessary minimum while the bones lose their natural stimulator of
osteoporosis. Women develop age-related osteoporosis
2 times more often than men (1, 2, 9).
However, not everyone is affected by osteoporosis,
which is connected with significant differences within
populations in response to the risk factors. These include
demographic, genetic, endocrine, dietary, and environmental factors as well as the use of medication, mostly
glucocorticoids (1, 3, 4).
The excess of endogenous and exogenous glucocorticoids induces osteoporosis, affecting mostly, but not exclusively, the lamellar bone. They influence osteogenesis
(suppression of osteoblastic activity) and indirectly increase
bone resorption activity.
The use of new methods of measuring bone density
(SPA, DEXA, QCT) and biochemical markers of bone turnover allows for early diagnosis and determining the degree
of metabolic disturbances of the bone tissue and its density.
The treatment of osteoporosis, which is a chronic and
progressive disorder, is long and multidimensional. Apart
from pharmacological treatment, it is vital to introduce
preventive measures:
– health education and elimination of risk factors,
– appropriate diet,
– appropriate physical activity,
– use of physical methods,
– health resort treatment.
Acta Balneologica
Physical medicine in the prevention of osteoporosis in the 21st century
mation caused by osteoporosis. This allows the patient
to follow the rehabilitation programme and take physical
exercise. Iontophoresis with calcium chloride is routinely
recommended in local osteoporosis. The procedure involves the use of 1-2% calcium chloride (CaCl2) from the
positive electrode.
Systemic cryotherapy is also recommended in osteoporotic patients. It has an analgesic and anti-inflammatory
effect and relaxes the muscles. Together with a kinesiotherapy programme, it indirectly improves the range of
mobility and increases muscle mass.
Recommended balneological procedures include therapeutic mud compresses on the spine and peripheral joints.
Therapeutic mud components have a positive effect on the
musculoskeletal system.
Kinesiotherapy procedures in brine pools allow for taking exercises with no loading, thanks to which the patients
are sooner able to ambulate freely after musculoskeletal
injuries or surgeries and can perform resistance exercises
which strengthen the skeletal system and accelerate the
metabolism of bone formation.
Therapy with natural potable mineral calcium, fluoride,
and magnesium waters may be helpful in the treatment of
osteoporosis as it is an additional source of calcium. These
waters include fluoride waters in Cieplice and Lądek Zdrój
as well as hydrogen carbonate and magnesium waters in
Krynica, Polanica, Szczawno, and Duszniki. Brine from Ciechocinek contains calcium and magnesium ions.
The aim of the study was to assess therapeutic usefulness and efficacy of variable low frequency magnetic field
(VLFMF) in bone loss prevention in patients undergoing
long-term steroid treatment due to chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease.
A morphological feature of steroid-induced osteoporosis, which differentiates it from post-menopausal osteoporosis, is a different type of the decrease in the number
and thickness of lamellae. In steroid-induced osteoporosis,
the number of lamellae decreases by only 10%, but their
thickness drops by 30%.
Biophysical mechanisms and biological effects of VLFMF
– influence on uncompensated magnetic spins of paramagnetic elements and free radicals as well as diamagnetic molecules,
– influence on liquid crystals, especially cell membrane
elements with liquid crystal properties,
– displacement of moving electrical charges,
– inducing potentials in spaces filled with electrolyte,
– influence on depolarization of cells with their own
– influence on structures with piezoelectric and magnetostrictive properties,
– intensifying the process of oxygen utilization and
tissue respiration,
– vasodilatatory and angiogenic properties,
– increase in soft tissue regeneration processes,
– accelerated bone union,
– anti-inflammatory and anti-oedema effect,
– analgesic effect.
Benefits of magnetic therapy
– low level of stimuli – may be used in acute cases,
– magnetic field penetrates all body parts evenly,
– procedures may be conducted through: clothes, cast,
– metal implants and foreign bodies are not contraindications to VLFMF treatment (apart from electronic
implants supporting organ function, such as cardiac
– effectively influences the connective (bone) tissue,
– no side effects with long-term application.
The study group consisted of 50 men (mean age was 62.5)
with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, treated with
steroids (tab. 1).
Parameters of the magnetic field used and the methods
of conducting the procedure:
– sinusoidal magnetic field (bipolar),
– frequency 50 Hz,
– field strength 2.5 mT,
– exposure time: 12 min. on the thoracic section
+ 10 min. on the L-S section,
– series of 20 procedures daily and 20 procedures
2 times a week (3 months),
– procedures were repeated after 3 months
(2 series per year).
Table 1. Steroid therapy.
Mean steroid
treatment time
Mean cumulative dose
of steroids orally
(Prednisone) g
Mean cumulative
dose of steroids
(X±SD) g
Mean annual dose
(X±sd) g
Acta Balneologica
Cumulative dose during vlfmf treatment (1 year)
(X±sd) g
TOM LVI, Nr 4 (138) /2014
Włodzisław Kuliński
Table 2. Vlfmf treatment results.
L2-L4 densitometry
BMD g/cm2
(X ± SD)
X ± SD
(X ± SD)
1. Beneficial therapeutic effects achieved in all the patients treated with VLFMF confirm the efficacy of the
method in the prevention of osteoporosis.
2. The analgesic effect of VLFMF, its ability to inhibit
the process of bone tissue destruction, easily conducted procedures, and no side effects suggest that
this method should be widely used in osteoporosis
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Number of exacerbations
during 1 year
(X ± SD)
Symptom severity according to
Laitinen questionnaire
(X ± SD)
Acta Balneologica
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Authors’ contributions:
According to the order of the Authorship
Conflicts of interest:
The Authors declare no conflict of interest.
Received: 18.08.2014.
Accepted: 14.11.2014.
Włodzisław Kuliński
Klinika Rehabilitacji WIM
ul. Szaserów 128, 04-141 Warszawa 44
TOM LVI, Nr 4 (138) /2014

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