Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when bone density and mass decrease, causing bones to weaken and increasing the risk for fracture. An individual’s bones are in a constant state of renewal, with new bone being made while old bone breaks down. Young individuals develop new bone faster than it breaks down, causing growth and mass increases. After the process slows in your later 20s, bone mass is lost faster than it is created.
Most common in individuals 50 years old and above, osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. One in every two post-menopausal women one in every four men are at the greatest risk of suffering an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.
While certain medications and medical conditions can increase the risk of osteoporosis, there are other causes that can play a role in the development of osteoporosis such as low levels of physical activity, diet, family history or changes to hormone levels.
Though certain medications and medical conditions can increase the risk, there are also medications that are combined with things like a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise that can help prevent bone loss or strength already weakened bones.
Typically unknown without medical testing, there are no symptoms to osteoporosis with the first sign of the disease suffering an osteoporotic fracture. However, if your bones have weakened due to osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that can include back pain, loss of height over time, a slumped posture, and bones that break much easier than expected.
Bone fractures are the most serious complications of osteoporosis. Generally noted in the hips or spine, hip fractures are often caused by a fall that can result in disability while spinal fractures can occur even without falling. Bones that makeup your spine can weaken over time to the point of collapsing, which can result in back pain, loss of height and a hunched posture.
A good diet and weight-bearing exercise are cited as two of the most important preventative measures one can take to prevent the weakening of bones.
A good diet to prevent osteoporosis needs to include calcium and vitamin D.
Men and women between the ages of 18 and 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, and the amount increases to 1,200 milligrams when women turn 50 and men turn 70.
While not getting enough calcium can lead to osteoporosis-aided fractures, too much calcium has been linked to the development of kidney stones while also potentially increasing the risk of heart disease.
The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that total calcium intake should be no more than 2,000 milligrams daily for people older than 50.
Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, canned salmon or sardines with bones, soy products (such as tofu) and calcium-rich cereals and orange juice.
Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium and improves bone health. Dietary sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, trout, and salmon. Many types of milk and cereal also have good amounts of vitamin D.
Natural sunlight is also a source of vitamin D, but it might not be a good source if one lives in a high latitude, if one is housebound, or if an individual uses sunscreen regularly to avoid burning and the risk of skin cancer.
Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, jogging, stair climbing, gardening, or anything that gets an individual moving are known to help prevent osteoporosis. Exercise helps to build strong bones and slow bone loss, and it will benefit your bones at any age regardless of life stage. However, the earlier one starts exercising, the earlier one will start to build bone mass.
Patients over the age of 50 should talk to their physicians about a screening. If you are tested and diagnosed with osteoporosis, several treatment options are available, including medication.
All treatment options will help increase bone density over time, but finding the right plan of treatment includes talking with your doctor to develop the proper plan. Please consult your physician before starting a diet, supplement, or exercise regimen.
If you or a loved one are concerned about the presence of osteoporosis, contact Bone and Joint Institute today to setup an appointment. Appointments can be made online, or by calling the office at (615) 791-2630.