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Alex Kumbar, franchise owner of OsteoStrong in Durham and Raleigh, provides a therapeutic service to help build bone strength using specialized equipment and testing. In this article he explains the various methods of determining and improving bone density.

The Profound Benefits
of Strong, Healthy Bone

By Alex Kumbar

Osteoporosis is a silent killer. It is virtually symptom-free, other than ultimately developing a characteristic hump-backed look. As, after the age of 30, we consistently lose bone density, we are more prone to breaking bones, eventually, in many cases, experiencing a major fracture, such as a broken hip. This, in turn, leads to a higher mortality rate. Frequently, we are unaware of this developing problem until an incident occurs and testing is finally done.

Alex Kumbar explains the measurements of bone strength recorded on one of the four pieces of osteogenic loading equipment. The screen shows measurements over time as well as an indicator of the pressure required to stimulate bone growth.

Porous Bone

The word osteoporosis literally means “porous bone.” If you were to look under a microscope, healthy bone looks like a honeycomb; but when you have osteo-porosis, the holes and spaces are much larger than they are in healthy bone.

Osteoporotic bones have lost density and mass, weakening them and making them more susceptible to breaking. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 experience osteoporotic fractures that could have been prevented if they had realized that they were losing bone mass. The sooner you are examined, the more quickly you can start rebuilding your bones.

There are three ways to measure bone density in the human body. The first is with a DXA scan (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry), which is recognized as the gold standard for testing bone density. A picture is taken of the inside body, usually the lumbar (lower) spine or hips to measure bone loss. It requires little preparation and the entire process—of scan and consultation—generally takes only 15-30 minutes. The testing is painless, and the amount of radiation involved in the testing is low.

During the test, you lie on an open X-ray table and remain still and calm as the scanner passes over your body. Once the test is evaluated, you get a T-score, which shows how many standard deviations your bone density is from that of a healthy 30-year old—the age when bones are their strongest. A negative score means you have lost bone density, and a score below -2.5 means osteoporosis.

A Second Test

A second method of testing bone health is a functional test—the OsteoStrong program itself. OsteoStrong works to build bone strength through a process called osteogenic loading—where focused activity stimulates bone growth. During an OsteoStrong session, clients engage in four positions—focused on upper body, lower body, posture, and core—that stimulate the body’s major muscles and bones. The goal is to push, pull, or lift as hard as you comfortably can; the entire sessions takes about 15 minutes.

The level of stimulus required to safely stimulate the growth of healthy bone tissue is made possible through this patented equipment exclusive to OsteoStrong. It uses a specialized, technician-monitored system designed to trigger an individual’s own natural adaptive responses to grow new, healthy bone tissue without soreness and without sweat. This process is also known as “impact emulation” because the devices give you the benefits of high impact forces without the risk of injury that comes from uncontrolled impacts.

Comprehensive Bone Density Scans for OsteoStrong Members

Thanks to a new agreement between OsteoStrong and Durham DXA, OsteoStrong members now have access to comprehensive DXA scans at very low cost. “We are so pleased to be partnering with Durham DXA in creating this opportunity,” says Alex Kumbar. “They are a Triangle area business utilizing top-of-the-line DXA scanning technology; and recognizing that they share our mission of helping people improve their bone health, they are making their services available to our members at a significant discount.”

DXA scans typically cost around $200, notes Mr. Kumbar. “Under this arrangement, our members can get two DXA scans, plus two body composition scans, for just $100. We are thrilled to be able to offer these discounted services to our members. A year from now, they will be able to look at the change in their own bone density.”

We refer to the OsteoStrong program as a valuable “functional test” of bone density, because the equipment is designed to tell you—at any given moment—how much force you’re using, thus providing real-time feedback. Further, each session’s data are recorded, and you can see progress in building strength over time.

This process is similar to a cardiac stress test on a treadmill to evaluate one’s fitness, in that each OsteoStrong session acts as a “functional test” of bone and muscles performance. For example, it tells you that if you were to really fall and need to decelerate your body, how effectively your muscles and bones would absorb that impact.

A Third Method

A third bone-health test is a simpler version of the DXA scan. At OsteoStrong, we can do an ultrasonic bone scan of the wrist, measuring the cortical layer of bone—the dense outer protective surface of bone. Usually this is done at someone’s second visit, and there’s no charge. It’s not as accurate as a full body DXA, but if you get a reading on the wrist scanner that’s worrying, it’s a great cue that it’s time for a DXA scan of your spine and hip. Generally, if someone has low bone density in one area of their body, they most often have low bone density everywhere.

Bone Growth at Any Age

Bone loss is normal. From a peak at about age 30, most people lose bone strength at the rate of about 1-2 percent a year; and it can be up to 4 percent for post-menopausal women. Diet, exercise, hormones, and other factors influences the amount and speed of bone loss—but the process is normal.
The good news is that it’s possible to regain bone density and strength and even to reverse osteoporosis—at any age. The OsteoStrong program was developed by Dr. John Jaquish to help his mother who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2004. Using the OsteoStrong method and machinery, she now has the bone density of a 30-year-old. She is presently in her eighties. The results are long lasting, so even if she were to stop doing OsteoStrong, her bone density would only decline at the natural rate, and she’d have the bone density of a 50-year-old at age 100.

Osteogenic loading not only increases skeletal strength and bone density, but it also increases physical strength, decreases joint and back pain, and improves fracture prevention, balance, and posture. Another added benefit revealed in peer reviewed clinical studies was the effects of osteogenic loading on people with pre-type 2 diabetes. Osteogenic loading outperformed every other modality—exercise, diet, and medication—when studied individually, as measure by a drop in A1C levels, strongly suggesting that new, healthy tissue is being restored in the muscle, which aids the body in processing glucose.

As an OsteoStrong health coach, my mission is to enable our clients to live a better quality of life and increase their longevity by using safe and natural options. OsteoStrong offers this option—an effective way to prevent and reverse bone loss.