How To Prevent & Treat Osteoporosis

How To Prevent & Treat Osteoporosis

A minor fall shouldn’t end in broken bones, but osteoporosis increases the chance of a mild stress turning into a more serious complication. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become brittle and fragile from a loss of tissue, and as we age, we can experience a dramatic decrease in bone mass.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Age: Higher risk develops after the age of 45.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
  • Race: Individuals of white or Asian descent have a higher risk.
  • Medications: Steroids and some medicine used to treat cancer, seizures, and gastric reflux can contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Family history
  • Certain diseases and medical conditions: Cancer, lupus, RA, and IBD can affect bone loss.
  • Hormonal changes: Menopause disrupts the body’s natural process of creating bone.

Lifestyle choices can put you at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and inactivity can contribute to weaker bones.

Diagnosis

Before developing full-blown osteoporosis, your bones may start to weaken due to osteopenia, which is a milder form of bone loss. Without any obvious symptoms, the only way to diagnose osteopenia would be to undergo a bone mineral density test performed.

Unfortunately, you may not experience any signs of osteoporosis until your bones are already weakened. You may start to notice pain, loss of height, or a stooped posture. In order to confirm that you have osteoporosis, your doctor will likely recommend a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, or “dexa scan.”

These scans and tests are painless and can help your physician create a treatment plan that will help reduce your risk of bone fracture. Treatments can include: 

  1. Medications - Some medications, including bisphosphonates, can be prescribed, but research side effects to determine what types will work best for you.

 

  1. Hormone-related therapy - Before choosing hormone-related therapy, consider the potential increase in risk of blood clots, certain cancer, and heart disease.

 

  1. Dietary changes - Getting enough calcium and Vitamin D can make a difference in bone mass, and it can be easy to add these valuable nutrients into your diet by eating low-fat or fat-free dairy products, calcium and Vitamin D-fortified cereals and juices, salmon and dark green vegetables.

 

  1. Lifestyle changes - Stop smoking, cut down on carbonated drinks and alcohol, and start moving more.

 

  1. Exercise - Weight-bearing exercises, such as tennis, jogging, aerobics, and dance will use your own body’s resistance to work against gravity.  Strength-training, such as pushups, squats, and using elastic resistance bands can help build muscle and bone.

If you have concerns about bone mass, please take the opportunity to discuss any symptoms you have experienced with your physician. Work with your doctor to consider your treatment options and determine what methods will help your bones strong.