May is National Osteoporosis Month and a good time to remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you are over 50, there is a chance you may suffer from osteoporosis, a condition that results in a loss of bone density. Osteoporosis causes bones to become porous and brittle, significantly increasing your risk for a fracture, often in the back, hip or wrist.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that half of all adults 50 and older have osteoporosis. The condition leads to nearly 2 million fractures annually, with more than 700,000 of these fractures occurring in the spine. The condition is more common in post-menopausal women and those with slight body frames, as well as among those who have undergone chemotherapy or who have certain auto-immune disorders.
Here are tips for preventing or lessening the severity of osteoporosis:
- Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements: These nutrients are important to maintaining bone density. Calcium builds strong bones while vitamin D supports the body’s ability to adequately absorb calcium.
- Exercise: Weight-bearing and aerobic exercises help build strong bones and slow bone loss. Yoga and tai chi can help improve your balance and posture which may help reduce your risk for falls.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: People who are very thin have a higher risk for osteoporosis, while being overweight may increase the risk of fractures in your arm and wrist.
- Stop Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of bone loss in addition to significantly increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Ask about Prescription Medications: If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are several medications your doctor can prescribe that are designed to prevent and treat bone loss.
- Get a bone density scan soon after you turn 50. This simple scan of your ankle provides baseline data against which future bone density can be measured. It can also reveal the presence of osteopenia, a loss of bone density that is not as severe as osteoporosis, but which indicates a significant risk for developing osteoporosis.
One of the most common consequences of osteoporosis is compression fractures of the spinal vertebra. Something as simple as a sneeze or cough can cause these weakened back bones to collapse. Yet up to 30 percent of spinal compression fractures go undiagnosed, especially in older patients whose back pain is simply diagnosed as arthritis or the aches and pains that come with aging. Yet advances in kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty can correct the problem—and alleviate the pain quickly without the need for surgery.
If you (or someone you know) is suffering from osteoporosis, please click on the following link to request an appointment today. Our Pain Management team has the expertise to accurately diagnose and treat musculoskeletal pain, regardless of its cause.