Our skeletal frame is the foundation for the rest of our layers-tendons, ligaments, organs, and skin. If your frame is brittle, that foundation easily breaks. I’m talking about Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is often “silent” since you are not aware of the diagnosis until you fracture a bone. Frequently a fall precipitates the fracture and the diagnosis is made on the x-rays, but fractures can also be caused by a strain or bump. Sometimes you may not know you have a fracture until you learn that you have lost an inch or more of height related to spinal fractures. If you have had several fractures or have a family history of osteoporosis please see your provider and discuss prevention, treatment, and further testing. A bone density test, or DXA (think dexa) scan may be performed to check your bone mass.
Prevention is key, and the earlier you start taking care of your skeleton the better. If you are in your senior years, you can still incorporate steps to prevent fractures. Diet and exercise are important partners in bone health. Include calcium-rich foods such as sardines, dairy products, almonds, and dark, green leafy vegetables to your meals each day. Getting enough Vitamin D in addition to calcium is essential to keeping your bones healthy since Vitamin D helps your body absorb and process the calcium. Talk to your provider about taking Vitamin D as he or she may wish to do a blood test before recommending a dosage. Staying active and mobile is important as well.
Weight-bearing exercises like walking, hiking, dancing, and gardening help slow the rate of bone loss. Muscle-bearing exercises like weight training and Yoga, also help build and maintain bone health as well as improve balance and stability. In addition, avoiding soda pop, smoking, and limiting alcohol can go a long way towards healthy bones.
Osteoporosis can be treated, and there are medications that can help. These medications help slow bone loss, reduce the risk of fractures, and sometimes increase bone density. Talk to your provider about the options and the risks. Osteoporosis and broken bones are not a normal part of aging. Whatever your age, start healthy bone habits now and enjoy a happy skeleton for many years.