Now that the New Year is upon us, most of us have made healthy goals for 2013. Presumably most people’s list will include one of these goals: losing weight, improving heart health, kicking the nicotine habit, drinking less caffeine, working out more or reducing sugar intake. All of these are great health goals, but how many of you have “Combating Osteoporosis” on your New Year’s Resolution List? Here’s why you might give it a thought…
If you take your risk for suffering a heart attack, developing breast cancer or having a stroke and combine these numbers, this will equal your risk for developing osteoporosis!1 Men and women of all races are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Yes men, even you are susceptible to this disease, although those most at risk are Asian and Caucasian females. Increasing the awareness of this disease is so important. Additionally, knowing a few simple things about osteoporosis and its risk factors could possibly help you prevent this disease.
Lets start with the definition. Osteoporosis is translated to “porous bone.”1 This means the cells that break down bone outnumber the cells that build bone. When this happens, our bones start to develop holes, like in the picture below. As your bone becomes less dense it also becomes more susceptible to fracturing easily. Can you imagine fracturing a rib just by coughing too hard?
Are you at risk for developing osteoporosis? Let’s look at some of the more common risk factors.
Risk factors we can do nothing about include:
Age – over 50 years
Gender – female (although males can develop it too!)
Race – Caucasian, Asian
Heredity – thanks mom!
Body Frame Size – small, thin
Early Menopause = higher risk
Risk factors we have control over:
Diet – get enough calcium and vitamin D, limit alcohol and caffeine
Smoking – just don’t do it!
Sedentary Lifestyle – couch potatoes need to get moving
Weight – high body mass index
Understanding if you are at risk is the first step. Know that you can actively eliminate some risk factors and take a positive approach to your health and wellness. If you are at risk, what is next?
I would talk with your MD or naturopathic doctor. They can give you suggestions for supplements, medication if warranted, and dietary advice. Your MD can also take a baseline measurement of your bone density and then compare this over subsequent years to determine if your bone density is improving or maintaining. Then, I would talk with a physical therapist. The physical therapist can give you tools to help you reduce your pain, build bone and muscle strength, correct your posture and improve your balance. This is all necessary to decrease your risk for falls and fractures.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimates that osteoporosis affects 10 million American women. NOF also estimates that 50% of women and 25% of men will at some point in their life be affected by this disease.1 This is why I felt compelled to write this blog. Go ahead, take the first step in safeguarding the future of your bone health!
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Jessica Dufault is a licensed physical therapist, a certified athletic trainer and a co-owner of Mindful Motion Physical Therapy, LLC in Madison, Wisconsin.
These are the thoughts and opinions of the author and they do not constitute medical advice. For advice on medical issues you should always consult your local medical practitioner.