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Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle, leading them to fracture and break easily. With Osteoporosis, new bone creation does not happen as fast as old bone removal. Many believe that this condition only occurs in women, however, on average one in every four men will be affected.

Tips for Preventing Osteoporosis

Our doctors at OAH state that the best way to prevent Osteoporosis is by adopting a healthy lifestyle to maintain bone mass.  Eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in bone-strengthening nutrition like calcium, protein, vitamins, magnesium, and zinc is the first step. Vitamin D supplementation is also recommended for most Americans.

Keeping a healthy weight and physical strength is another important avenue toward a healthy lifestyle. Weight-bearing exercise is important to maintain bone strength and to build stronger bones. A few examples of weight-bearing exercise:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Stair climbing
  • Gardening
  • Weightlifting
  • Yoga

Dr. Stephen Davis states, “Osteoporosis is unfortunately very common in the United States. Resultant fractures can lead to the need for surgery, significant disability, and even death. Eating healthy and exercising can help maintain bone mass. Alcohol and nicotine have very detrimental effects on bone health, as can certain medications such as corticosteroids and cancer chemotherapies. If you’re worried about bone health, discuss with your doctor, and ask how to be screened.”

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis generally has no symptoms and is a silent disease until a fracture occurs. However, some early signs may occur that can indicate the development of osteoporosis:

  • Receding gums- if you are losing bone density in your jaw it can pull your gums back.
  • Weaker grip strength- handgrip is closely related to bone density, so if you find yourself unable to grip easily you may be experiencing bone loss.
  • Weak and brittle fingernails- fingernails are sometimes an indicator of bone health because both grow weaker with a lack of protein and bond formation. However, nails can also be affected by temperature, nail polish remover, etc.

Later-stage Osteoporosis will have more obvious symptoms like:

  • Bone fracture- this is the most obvious sign of fragile bones. The fractures could be caused by movements as small as bumping a table or sneezing.
  • Loss of height- the bones in your spine can weaken to the point where they start to collapse.
  • Neck and back pain- the bones in your spine collapsing can cause minor to severe back pain.

Treatment Options

Osteoporosis can be diagnosed with a simple X-ray test called a DEXA scan. The scan is quick, painless, and easy to do. Women over the age of 65 and men over 70 should be screened. If you have had a prior fracture over the age of 50, have a family history of osteoporosis, or have been on high-risk medications, you should be screened earlier. Talk to your doctor for more information about DEXA screening.

If caught early, treatment consists of the same lifestyle changes mentioned above to reverse the process. However, if that does not work or the condition is caught later, our doctors may recommend medications that prevent the loss of bone density. In the most severe cases or if other treatments don’t work, there are several bone-building medication options.