Osteoporosis is often called the silent disease because many people have few symptoms until it has progressed significantly. Characterized by thin, porous and brittle bones, osteoporosis can lead to broken bones after even minor bumps or stresses, such as coughing or tripping. It develops when more bone tissue is lost than is formed or when too much bone tissue is lost. Bone is a complex living structure that protects your vital organs, provides support for your muscles and stores minerals.
Symptoms of osteoporosis may not be significant initially but can become more noticeable as the condition progresses, and they can include:
- Pain in the abdomen, back or ribs
- Loss of height
- Fractures in the wrists, spine, hips, pelvis, ribs and humerus
- A hunched back, or dowager’s hump
The damage associated with osteoporosis can be severe, and broken bones can be debilitating. Half of those who experience a hip fracture will be permanently disabled, and one out of five will need long-term care. Another 20 percent of hip fracture patients will die within a year, often due to complications associated with the fracture or recovery period.
About 25 million Americans have osteoporosis, and it can affect people from all walks of life. Although commonly associated with the elderly, even young people can develop osteoporosis. While white and Asian women are most vulnerable to developing osteoporosis, all ethnicities can develop the condition, and minorities may be more likely to die.
One of the biggest risk factors in the development of osteoporosis is menopause, which is why older women or women who have undergone hysterectomy seem to be at the highest risk. However, other people may also be at risk, including:
- Those who have a small body frame
- Those who smoke
- Those whose periods have ceased due to heavy exercise or extreme dieting
- Those with a family history of the condition
- Those who drink alcohol heavily
- Those with a low body weight
- Those with a sedentary lifestyle
- Those who use certain medications, including anticonvulsants, corticosteroids and antacids that contain aluminum
- Those with certain hormonal disorders
- Those with certain health conditions
- Those with a low calcium intake
People who have risk factors for osteoporosis can take certain steps to reduce their risk while those who are in the early stages of the disease can slow or stop its progression. A healthy lifestyle can be one of the most important factors when it comes to reducing the risk or managing osteoporosis. A balanced diet that includes appropriate levels of calcium and vitamin D and is limited in carbonated beverages and caffeine can help you maintain a healthy body weight and keep your bones strong. Regular moderate exercise that includes both strength training and aerobic exercise can help reduce bone loss. If you smoke or drink, limit your intake or quit altogether. Begin having baseline bone density tests performed in your 30s and then every one to three years after that.
Identifying a decrease in bone mineral density early can be critical to your health. If your doctor diagnoses you with osteopenia or osteoporosis, the right treatments can help you keep your bones healthy. We can provide customized hormone replacement therapy to replace low levels of hormones and keep your bones strong. We can also provide you with specially blended nutritional supplements that include calcium and other minerals essential to bone health, including magnesium, folic acid, manganese, zinc, boron and vitamins A, B6, C, D and K.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can work with you and your health care provider to help you enjoy a lifetime of healthy bones.