Sheila enjoying carrying her granddaughter.
I am a small-boned, postmenopausal woman with osteoporosis. I first showed signs of osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) 10 years ago and agreed with my physician to take a Western medicine called Boniva. After a year of nasty side effects, I discontinued the medicine and decided to try to pursue other options.
I researched and experimented and eventually found a routine comprised of nutritional supplements, weight-bearing exercises with a trainer twice a week, and walking as much as possible. This routine seemed to help a little but was complicated by an undiagnosed fissure in my L5/S1 lumbar disc. At the time, I was in chronic pain and in constant fear of having a back spasm with each weight-bearing exercise. I did my best, but the gusto I needed to push through these exercises soon evaporated.
Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bone and a reduction in its density. Good posture
may well be key to the skeleton weight-bearing correctly and maintaining bone density. Wikimedia Commons
In 2015 a DEXA scan (bone density test) indicated I was at a score of -2.5 and officially in the osteoporosis category. I decided that I was just not doing enough. I saw an Ayurvedic doctor and upped my game by taking Ayurvedic herbs to improve bone density as well as spending several months at an Ayurvedic treatment center in India.
As I look back, I see my life at that time was not going the way I wanted it to; my attention was constantly drawn to my back pain, and now, osteoporosis. But I remained hopeful that what I was doing would do the trick. In 2016 I had a partial discectomy to correct the fissured disc in L5/S1. Although I was able to get the disc repaired, the back pain continued. That year I was limited in the weight-bearing exercises I could do.
CT scans showing the annular fissure at Sheila’s L5/S1 intervertebral disc.
When a disc’s tough outer casing tears, some of the disc filling (nucleus pulposus)
is squeezed out, often toward sensitive nerve roots.
Two years went by and in 2018, my next DEXA scan indicated my numbers had worsened to -3.1. Now there was no option for me but Western medicine to avoid fractures. I did what was needed and took a onetime infusion of a medicine called Reclast (Zoledronic Acid). The recommendation from the doctor was to continue with annual doses for 3-5 years to see results. However, I stopped after one year due to jaw pain, which is a known possible side effect.
In 2019 my life took a positive turn. I read a book by Esther Gokhale called 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back and immediately sensed that I had found the solution to my back problems. I took the Gokhale Method® Foundations Course in June 2019 and put this newfound knowledge into practice. The Gokhale Method turned everything around for me by correcting my bad posture, which almost entirely resolved the back pain. I did the exercises at the back of the book religiously and attended every online workshop. I could now sit, stand, bend, walk and actively exercise without fear of pain or spasm. I have continued to thrive ever since with NO BACK PAIN.
During the last year and a half, I have continued practicing the Gokhale Method and now attend the Gokhale Exercise offerings 7 days per week. The daily programs frequently include dancing, bobbing, jogging, jiggling, shaking, and light-impact movements. I also practiced Qi Gong, a martial arts type exercise, 3 times per week. I have continued taking the same supplements that I had prior to 2018: RAW Calcium and Cissus quadrangularis (an Indian Ayurvedic herb that I have taken for 6 years).
A moment from our 1-2-3 Move session, November 19th 2020. The theme was
“Jiggling and Jumping.” Movements that cultivate a strong core and protect your back can be fun!
On November 30, 2020 I once again went for a DEXA scan of my spine, hips, and femur. The next day I was filled with anxiety about what my results would show. I was afraid that my bone density might have plummeted and that I would now be in serious danger of a fracture. I had already planned on resuming Western meds and had even decided on which one would be the best choice for me in the long term.
When I opened my DEXA scan results I was shocked. My lumbar spine T-scores indicated that I had improved from -3.1 in 2018 to -2.7 in 2020. Compared to the previous exam, the BMD (Bone Mineral Density) had increased 6.1% within the spine and increased 4.9% within the femurs. This increase in spinal and femoral density was statistically significant.
Lumbar Spine T-score
Left Femur Neck T-score
Right Femur Neck T-score
On Dec 10, 2020 I went for a follow-up visit with my rheumatologist to review the lab results and get some perspective on the DEXA scan. He said that my bone density improvement was extraordinary. The Reclast infusion I had completed 2 years prior (one time only) was expected to only preserve my bone density at -3.1. There was a tiny chance of a 1% improvement, but a 6.1% improvement was not an expected result. He remarked that this kind of positive change is extremely rare. He kept saying, “Keep doing what you are doing, because it is working and for now there is no need to return to Western meds.” At that point I told him about the Gokhale Method and showed him 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back.
Exercise with weights, when done with healthy postural form,
will help increase bone density and strength.
Gokhale Method teacher Eric Fernandez shows how on the Gokhale Fitness Program.
Other than the Reclast infusion in 2018, the only additions I have made to my routine are the Gokhale Method daily techniques, the Gokhale Exercise program including 1-2-3 Move with Esther, and Qi Gong. I have been dealing with this bone density issue for about 10 years now and have tried a large number of different approaches—this is the first time I have had any kind of an improvement in my bone density.
I want to emphasize that I am a strong believer in Western medicine. I will certainly use it again if my bone density decreases. In the meantime, I will continue with my Gokhale Method routine and get tested again in a year to see if the improvement lasts.
For now, my expectations are GREAT!