Orthopedics / Neurology
Why should I be concerned about it?
Osteoporosis is a major health problem, affecting 28 million Americans and contributing to an estimated 1.5 million bone fractures per year. One in two women and one in five men over age 65 will sustain bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Many of these are painful fractures of the hip, spine, wrist, arm and leg that often occur as a result of a fall. However, even simple household tasks can produce a fracture of the spine if the bones have been weakened by the disease.
What is a bone density screening?
Bone densitometry is a safe, painless X-ray technique that compares your bone density to the peak bone density that someone of your same sex and ethnicity should have reached at about age 20 to 25, when it is at it’s highest. It is often performed in women at the time of menopause. Several types of bone densitometry are used today to detect bone loss in different areas of the body.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of osteoporosis is usually made by your doctor using a combination of a complete medical history and physical examination, skeletal X-rays, bone densitometry and specialized laboratory tests. If your doctor finds low bone mass, he or she may want to perform additional tests to rule out the possibility of other diseases that can cause bone loss, including osteomalacia (a vitamin D deficiency) or hyperparathyroidism (overactivity of the parathyroid glands).
Can exercise help osteoporosis?
Like muscles, bones need exercise to stay strong. No matter what your age, exercise can help you minimize bone loss while providing many additional health benefits. Doctors believe that a program of moderate, regular exercise ( three to four times a week) is effective for the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, dancing, treadmill exercises, and weight lifting are probably best. Falls account for 50 percent of fractures, therefore, even if you have low bone density you can prevent fractures if you avoid falls. Programs that emphasize balance training, especially, Tai Chi, should be emphasized. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Why is vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. The recommendation for vitamin D is 200-600 iu daily. Supplemented dairy products are an excellent source of vitamin D. (A cup of milk contains 100 iu. A multivitamin contains 400 iu of vitamin D) Vitamin supplements can be taken if your diet doesn’t contain enough of this nutrient. Again, consult with your doctor before taking a vitamin supplement. Too much vitamin D can be toxic.
What are some good sources of calcium?
Dairy products, including yogurt and cheese, are excellent sources of calcium. An eight ounce glass of milk contains about 300mg of calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include sardines with bones and green leafy vegetables, including broccoli and collard greens.If your diet doesn’t contain enough calcium, dietary supplements can help. Talk to your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.
How much calcium do I need in my diet?
How much calcium you need will vary depending on your age and other factors. The National Academy of Sciences makes the following recommendations regarding daily intake of calcium:
- Males and females 9 to 18 years: 1,300mg per day
- Women and men 19 to 15 years: 1,000mg per day
- Pregnant or nursing women up to age 18: 1,300mg per day
- Pregnant or nursing women 19 to 50 years: 1,000mg per day
- Women and men over 50: 1,200mg per day
Why is calcium so important in your diet?
During the growing years, your body needs calcium to build strong bones and to create a supply of calcium reserves. Building bone mass when you are young is a good investment for your future. Inadequate calcium during growth can contribute to the development of osteoporosis later in life. Whatever your age or health status, you need calcium to keep your bones healthy. Calcium continues to be an essential nutrient after growth because the body loses calcium every day. Although calcium can’t prevent gradual bone loss after menopause, it continues to plan essential role in maintaining bone quality. Even if you’ve gone through menopause or already have osteoporosis, increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D can decrease your risk of fracture.
What can I do to prevent osteoporosis or keep it from getting worse?
There is a lot you can do throughout your life to prevent osteoporosis, slow its progression and protect yourself from fractures. Start by including adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet.
What causes Osteoporosis?
*Aging. Everyone loses bone with age. After age 35, the body builds less new bone to replace losses of old bone. In general, the older you are, the lower your total bone mass anjd the greater risk for osteoporosis.
*Heredity. A family history of fractures; a small, slender body build; fair skin; and a Caucasian or Asian background can increase the risk of Osteoporosis. Heredity also may help explain why some people develop osteoporosis early in life.
*Nutrition and lifestyle. Poor nutrition, including a low calcium diet, low body weight and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to osteoporosis, as have smoking and excessive alcohol use.
*Medications and other illnesses. Osteoporosis has been linked to some medications, including steroids, and to other illnesses, including some thyroid problems.
What is the most serious osteoporotic fracture?
The most serious and debilitating osteoporotic fracture is the hip fracture. Most hip fracture patients who previously lived independently will require help from their family or home care. All hip fracture patients will require walking aids for several months, and nearly half will permanently need canes or walkers to move around their house or outdoors.