Bone Loss in Crohn's Disease: Exercise As a Potential Countermeasure

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Crohn's disease (CD) is associated with a number of secondary conditions including osteoporosis, which increases the risk of bone fracture. The cause of metabolic bone disease in this population is believed to be multifactorial and may include the disease itself and associated inflammation, high-dose corticosteroid use, weight loss and malabsorption, a lack of exercise and physical activity, and an underlying genetic predisposition to bone loss. Reduced bone mineral density has been reported in between 5% to 80% of CD sufferers, although it is generally believed that approximately 40% of patients suffer from osteopenia and 15% from osteoporosis. Recent studies suggest a small but significantly increased risk of fracture compared with healthy controls and, perhaps, sufferers of other gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis. The role of physical activity and exercise in the prevention and treatment of CD-related bone loss has received little attention, despite the benefits of specific exercises being well documented in healthy populations. This article reviews the prevalence of and risk factors for low bone mass in CD patients and examines various treatments for osteoporosis in these patients, with a particular focus on physical activity.

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