Bone in your body constantly breaks down and is replaced by new bone. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones break down faster (called bone resorption) than they can be replaced by new bone formation (called bone remodeling), making them less dense and more porous. This brittleness weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to fractures and breaks.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Viewed under a microscope, healthy bone looks like a honeycomb. When osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in healthy bone. Osteoporotic bones have lost density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structure. As bones become less dense, they weaken and are more likely to break.

Osteoporosis can have a big impact on quality of life. Lifestyle disruptions range from pain to depression to long-term home care. People who have osteoporosis or who are at risk of getting it should be aware of potential complications of the disease and seek solutions before issues arise.

There are usually very few symptoms of osteoporosis until a bone fracture or break occurs. Some indicators are curvature of the spine, loss of height, stooped posture and possibly even bone pain. By the time these symptoms emerge, osteoporosis is thought to be moderate to severe in stage.

Some of the causes of osteoporosis are generally unavoidable—age is a contributing factor: the older you are the more at risk you are for developing osteoporosis. Women, especially menopausal women, are more likely to get osteoporosis than men as low estrogen levels lead to weakened bones.  People with small, slender build are also more likely to get osteoporosis.

Genetics are also a factor: osteoporosis can be inherited. Certain medications also contribute to the disease (steroids specifically). Some thyroid problems and low vitamin D and calcium are also linked to bone loss. Lack of exercise also contributes as does tobacco and alcohol use.

Most interesting however, is the link between inflammation and osteoporosis.  Research indicates that chronic inflammation in the body (systemic inflammation—meaning it is throughout the body, at the cellular level) can directly cause osteoporosis through it’s effect on bone resorption (loss).  (1) Inflammatory cytokines have been linked to high levels of bone resorption (breakdown of bone) leading to osteoporosis. Chronic inflammation is damaging to all types of cells and bone is no different.

ChillRx Cryotherapy prevents and treats osteoporosis with whole body cryotherapy. A recent controlled clinical trial found that whole body cryotherapy led to an increase in bone remodeling (new bone formation) with no concurrent increase in bone resorption. This indicates that osteoporosis can be treated with WBC. (2) (3) The concept is that cold exposure activates specific osteoimmunological biomarkers that are crucial for bone remodeling. This specific biomarker, OPG,  increased significantly following a series of whole body cryotherapy treatments. There was no concurrent increase in bone resorption factors, indicating that bone formation can be activated by whole body cryotherapy.

ChillRx also recommends the use of infrared sauna in the treatment of moderate to severe osteoporosis.  Infrared sauna has positive effects on pain, inflammation and flexibility. Infrared sauna can relieve pain related to fractures and breaks caused by osteoporosis. Infrared sauna has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects which can treat and prevent osteoporosis. Finally, infrared sauna has been shown to improve muscle flexibility and elasticity which can help prevent falls and improve stability and balance.

For individuals with a family history or genetic pre-disposition to osteoporosis, whole body cryotherapy can mitigates risks for developing the disease. For individuals with osteoporosis, whole body cryotherapy can stimulate new bone formation, relieving symptoms and even reversing the disease.

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(1) Nutr Rev.2007 Dec;65(12 Pt 2):S147-51. Osteoporosis and inflammation. Mundy GR1.

Journal of Thermal Biology 34 (2009) 55–59

(2)Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on serum mediators of inflammation and serum muscle enzymes in athletes

Giuseppe Banfi, Gianluca Melegati, Alessandra Barassi, Giada Dogliotti , Gianvico Melzi d’Eril, Benoit Dugue ́ , Massimiliano M. Corsi

(3) Injury, Int. J. Care Injured 44 (2013) 1117–1121

Bone remodelling biomarkers after whole body cryotherapy (WBC) in elite Rugby Players. Giuseppe Banfi, Gianluca Melegati, Alessandra Barassi, Giada Dogliotti , Gianvico Melzi d’Eril, Benoit Dugue ́ , Massimiliano M. Corsi