Build Strong Bones to Prevent Osteoporosis
What is Osteoporosis?
Let’s break down the word “osteoporosis”: osteo means bone and porosis means porous. Osteopenia is another word commonly associated with bone loss. It refers to bone density that is lower than normal peak density but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is characterized by the deterioration of bone tissue leading to low bone density and low bone quality. When bones lose density, they become more fragile. The risk of fracture therefore increases. A small slip and fall can lead to broken bones in someone who is osteoporotic. In serious cases, a sneeze, or bump can be damaging to the skeleton. In fact, osteoporosis-related fractures are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. The hips, spine, wrists, and shoulders have the greatest risk of fracture when it comes to osteoporosis. When the spine is involved, osteoporotic-related fractures of the vertebrae can cause a loss of height. This will lead to stooped or hunched posture.
The Silent Thief
Osteoporosis is a serious health concern. It is known as the silent thief because there are no symptoms when bone loss occurs. Breaking a bone can be the first sign of osteoporosis. Women and men begin to lose bone in their mid-30s. As they approach menopause, women lose bone at a faster rate, from 2-3 percent per year. Osteoporosis affects women two to three times more than men. It is diagnosed using a bone density scan. This scan measures bone mineral density and assesses the risk of fracture.
When it comes to preventing osteoporosis, there are uncontrollable and controllable risk factors. Risk factors for osteoporosis that are out of our control include:
- Being over the age of 50
- Being female
- Menopause or post-menopause
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Petite body frame
- History of a previous fracture
The good news is, there are ways to prevent osteoporosis. There are also ways to prevent the risks associated with osteoporosis. It’s never too early to focus on bone health. Lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity influence bone development in youth. They also influence the rate of bone loss later in life. If we build strong bones when we are young, we can prevent the serious risks associated with bone loss as adults. In fact, a 10% increase of peak bone mass in children reduces the risk of an osteoporotic fracture during adult life by 50%.
Building Strong Bones
To build strong bones, children and teenagers should eat a nutritious diet. They should maintain adequate levels of vitamin D from food and healthy sun exposure. Participation in regular physical activity is key to building strong bones.
Adults, on the other hand, can continue to maintain strong bones and prevent risks associated with osteoporosis. A nutritious diet is at the foundation. Maintaining an adequate supply of vitamin D will help improve bone density and may prevent bone loss. While swimming is gentle on the joints, to maintain strong bones weight-bearing exercise such as walking and hiking is necessary. Avoiding smoking, second-hand smoke and heavy alcohol consumption will help maintain a healthy skeleton.
If you have (or if you are at risk of) osteopenia or osteoporosis, you are much more likely to break a bone with a fall. Plus, one in every three Canadians over the age of 65 will fall at least once in a year. Falls can have serious impacts on quality of life. There are important steps that you can take to prevent falls. These include small changes around the house as well as easy lifestyle modifications and additions.
- Grab bars around the toilet and inside the bathtub or shower will make the bathroom safer.
- Rubber mats in the bathtub and floor mats with rubber backings will prevent falls in the bathroom
- A raised toilet seat can make getting on and off easier
- A night light will prevent fumbling around in the dark at night
- Keep frequently used items within reach
- Keep a sturdy step stool in the kitchen to reach the items in the top cupboard. Avoid climbing on chairs and tables to get objects
- Clean up spills right away so that you don’t find yourself slipping later
You can find more falls prevention tips here.
Our team at Glebe Chiropractic Clinic + Massage Therapy Centre is here to help! We will help you assess your risk of falls and provide practical advice to reduce that risk. We will offer tips and tools on how to build and maintain a strong skeleton.