Why you should be thinking about your bones

You need strong bones to keep up with life’s everyday activities. Osteoporosis makes bones brittle and week, affecting your ability to participate in everyday activities. Are you at risk for osteoporosis?

Walking on the beach. Lifting a bag of groceries. Bending over to do spring gardening. We all need strong bones to keep up with life’s everyday activities, whether it’s work, play or the adventures in between. Yet people with osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones brittle and weak, may have to think twice about activities that most of us take for granted. A quick twist, a sudden turn or a fall can cause a fracture.

How do you go from healthy and active to fearful of making a wrong move? That’s the silent nature of osteoporosis. Typically, our bones regenerate, and new bone replaces the old. With osteoporosis, you can either lose bone mass too quickly or not rebuild bone mass fast enough to keep up with what is lost — sometimes both. All of this can happen without ever feeling a thing. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has identified osteoporosis as a major public health issue, because many people are not diagnosed with osteoporosis until they’ve had their first fracture, a statistic that Norton Healthcare is trying to change.

Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital participates in the American Orthopaedic Association’s Own the Bone program. We have a dedicated bone health team that identifies, screens and cares for individuals with bone health issues. The goal is to reduce the number of people getting osteoporosis or having second fractures due to osteoporosis.

Things you may not know about osteoporosis

  • Approximately one in two women and one in four men over age 50 will break a bone from osteoporosis. 
  • A women’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. 
  • Men age 50 and older are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer. 
  • One in four women and one in three men will die within a year of a hip fracture. 
  • Approximately 54 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis.
Laura assists patients who need help navigating the health care system. For more information, call (502)-899-6310 or email laura.lagerstrom@nortonhealthcare.org.

Common risk factors for osteoporosis

  • Age: Risk increases with age. 
  • Gender: Osteoporosis affects more women than men. 
  • Family history: If one of your parents had osteoporosis, you’re more likely to get it. 
  • Menopause: Estrogen helps maintain bone mass. When estrogen levels drop at menopause, bones may be at risk. 
  • Smoking: Tobacco is toxic to your bones. If you smoke, get help to stop.

Let’s talk good news!

There are things you can do to lower your risk for getting osteoporosis.

  • Get enough calcium. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends 1,200 mg (in divided doses) daily. There are about 300 mg in 1 cup of milk. 
  • Get adequate vitamin D. It’s needed to absorb calcium from the digestive system into the bloodstream. The NOF recommends 800 to 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. Your body will produce enough vitamin D from about 10 minutes in sunshine. Vitamin D is also available as a dietary supplement. 
  • Exercise. This is one of the best ways to preserve bone density. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing and using a stationary bike, are great ways to build and maintain bone mass. Exercise most days of the week. 
  • Prevent falls oWear shoes with good traction. Be careful stepping up or down on curbs. Use night lights. Wear house shoes or slippers with rubber soles rather than walking around in socks. Use a rubber mat in the shower or tub. 
  • Talk to your health care provider about other ways to ensure your bones stay strong and healthy.

Statistics provided from the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF.org) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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