July Health Month: Osteoporosis
Stand Strong Against Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women.* But with a strong team to help you know the symptoms and how to prevent and treat it, you can stand strong against those numbers.
Understanding the Disease
The word osteoporosis means "porous bone." As you can imagine, this is a much weaker bone structure than the bones of our youth. This reduction in bone mass happens when the disease causes your body to lose bone mass or prevents it from making enough bone. And as bones lose density, even simple actions like slight falls and furniture bumps can cause fractures.
If you do fall, talk with your doctor immediately to find out if you have sustained a fracture. It is important to get in touch with your care team as soon as possible so we can work together on diagnosis and treatment and to track your recovery process.
Your care team may x-ray the area, order a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scan to see how thin your bones are, and/or prescribe certain medications for osteoporosis treatment.
Are You at Risk
Eighty percent of the 10 million Americans affected by osteoporosis are women. Here are some common risk factors:
- Women age 50 or older and men over 70 are the most at risk.
- You could be at higher risk if you're Caucasian or Asian, or if a parent has the disease.
- Those with low body weight or a slight frame are more susceptible.
- Poor diet, smoking and excessive drinking can all increase risk.
Watch for the Signs
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. You can even develop fractures without knowing it. To see if you have early signs of osteoporosis (osteopenia), you can schedule a painless bone density exam with your doctor. However, advanced osteoporosis has sure signs to look out for:
- Frequent bone pain
- Easily occurring fractures
- Loss of height
- Low back pain
- Stooped posture
Fractures are Avoidable
Low bone density and osteoporosis cause millions of bone fractures each year. But there are simple things you can do to stay break free, like "fall-proofing" your home and avoiding exercise that carries a risk of falling. Don't do activities that require you to twist your body, especially while bending forward. However, exercises like tai chi can help improve balance, strength, coordination and flexibility. And one of the simplest things you can do is maintain good posture and body alignment.
The 1-2-3 of Osteoporosis Prevention
- GET OUT THERE. Stay active with regular exercise like walking, tennis, dancing, free weights, tai chi, and yoga. Remember to talk with your doctor first.
- BOOST BONE STRENGTH. Ask your doctor about bone-nourishing supplements like calcium, Vitamin D3, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin K.
- STAY HEALTHY. Reduce the toxins you put in your body by quitting smoking and limiting your consumption of alcohol, sodium and caffeine.
To learn more about osteoporosis and how to reduce your risk of fractures, talk with your doctor or visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) at www.nof.org.
*"Osteoporosis/Bone Health in Adults as a National Public Health Priority." American Association of OrthopedicSurgeons. Web. 08. June. 2016. Article link.