As we age, our bodies break down old bone tissue and form new bone tissue to replace it. But for those who suffer from osteoporosis, the bone tissue either forms too slowly or breaks down too quickly causing bones to become thin, fragile and prone to fracture.
Fortunately, there have been incredible advances over the past years in the treatment and our knowledge of osteoporosis.
6 Important Facts About Osteoporosis
So, whether you have the condition, know of someone who has it, or want to learn the best strategies to avoid it, you should know the following six things about osteoporosis.
1. Prevention Starts Early
Even though the signs of osteoporosis usually occur in ages 65 and older, its underlying causes can stretch back to childhood.
We form about 90 percent of our bone mass before we turn age 20. Therefore, the less we form the more likely we are to develop osteoporosis later on. Our genes play a role in this process, but environmental factors also have an impact – which means that everyone can take steps to prevent osteoporosis.
2. Calcium Is Bone’s Best Friend
Calcium helps us form and maintain healthy bones. Foods, such as milk and yogurt, are calcium-rich and important to consume, especially during childhood.
But getting enough calcium is just the first step to preventing osteoporosis.
3. Osteoporosis Can Be Prevented
In addition to calcium intake, other prevention strategies include avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco use — which can weaken bones — and doing weight-bearing exercises such as aerobics or weight training.
Much like muscles, bones grow stronger in response to resistance, so doing weight-bearing exercises for at least 30 minutes three times a week can help prevent bone loss.
4. Osteoporosis Can Go Undetected for Years
Besides prevention, early diagnosis is best to help people with osteoporosis limit bone loss by starting treatment as soon as possible.
But it requires awareness, because many people with the disease don’t experience symptoms in its early stages. Therefore, regular bone density scans are often recommended for women older than age 65 because their lighter, thinner bones and decreased estrogen levels make them more likely to develop the disease.
Testing your bone density, which tests how strong your bones are, is the only way to absolutely know if you have osteoporosis. One of the most common bone density tests is called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA). The Orthopedic Clinic offers on-site DEXA scanning.
A DEXA scan takes just 10 to 20 minutes and is painless. The results of your scan provide a T-score: where the lower your score, the weaker your bones are.
5. Low Bone Density Doesn’t Always Mean Osteoporosis
If a scan uncovers low bone density, you don’t necessarily have osteoporosis. When bone density is lower than average, but not low enough to qualify as osteoporosis, it’s called osteopenia.
While people with osteopenia have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, they are likely to follow a more conservative treatment plan that does not include medication.
6. Osteoporosis Can’t Be Cured, but Can Be Treated Effectively
There are medications that can safely and effectively slow bone loss and prevent fractures.
Additionally, the same tactics that may prevent osteoporosis — such as weight-bearing exercise, proper calcium intake and not smoking — can also delay the effects of osteoporosis.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you think osteoporosis is affecting your health, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.