A familiar term to most, osteoporosis affects approximately 54 million Americans. With such a high number of individuals living with this condition, it’s important to have a firm understanding of what osteoporosis is and how people with the disease are affected. Keep reading to find out what you can do to reduce your risk, as well as what treatment options may be available to you through the providers and staff at The Mollen Clinic.
What is Osteoporosis?
This disease is found in bones. It can be triggered by bone loss, lack of bone, or the combination of the two. Bones naturally have holes, much like a honeycomb, to allow blood vessels and nerves to create a network throughout the body. However, when a provider looks at the bones of a person with osteoporosis, the holes are much larger than normal. This creates a weakness and brittleness in the bones, which causes them to break and fracture after minor mishaps.
Take Osteoporosis Seriously
A minor fall or tripping on the sidewalk can cause serious damage for individuals with osteoporosis. Elderly people are at the most risk for dealing with lasting pains and discomfort after breaking a bone. The bones most likely to break are those in the hip, spine, and wrist. Each bone has the ability to severely debilitate an older individual with pain after an accident.
The spine could show signs of osteoporosis without detectable fractures. Since the bones weaken under the influence of osteoporosis, many patients develop a slump that’s caused by tiny compression fractures in the vertebrae. This change may be known as a “dowager’s hump.”
Who Gets Osteoporosis?
Men and women are both susceptible to osteoporosis. Although many individuals take intentional steps towards strengthening their bones, the disease can surprise anyone.
Women: While men are vulnerable to osteoporosis, the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports women make up 80 percent of the osteoporosis population. These statistics are a product of a few unavoidable differences between the sexes. Women usually have smaller bones, but the biggest reason is the decrease in estrogen levels post-menopause. Estrogen works to protect the bones, so when hormone levels change drastically during this period of a woman’s life, bones may become vulnerable.
Men: Chances for osteoporosis increase with additional medical conditions like prostate, kidney and lung cancers, gastrointestinal diseases and more.
Start Protecting Your Bones Today
Fortunately, building strong bones throughout your life is easier to do when you have the right knowledge. While most people think a glass of milk suffices for bone protection, patients who are motivated to reduce risk for osteoporosis can take additional measures to protect their bones.
Calcium Count: Understanding how much calcium you need for healthy bones is the first step towards preventing osteoporosis. For women under 50 years old and men under 70, 1,000 mg of calcium is recommended on a daily basis. This number increases to 1,200 mg once women are over the age of 50 and men are over 70.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is an under-appreciated protector of bones! Vitamin D is an essential partner for calcium. Without Vitamin D, the body cannot properly absorb calcium into the bones. Whether you start spending a little more time outside or start taking a supplement, make sure to include this ingredient in your bone health regiment.
Bone-Boosting Foods: Start filling your diet with salmon, dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, oranges, bananas, and other bone-healthy foods.
Exercise: Whether you pick running, swimming, or hiking, the most important thing is to get moving. Don’t forget to add some muscle strengthening to help support your bones.
The most important part of preventing osteoporosis is simply working to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Making this your priority not only protects you from osteoporosis, but also from a myriad of threatening conditions and diseases.
How Is Osteoporosis Tested For?
The first step is having a bone density test. A provider will screen your bones to see if you have average density, low density (osteopenia), or osteoporosis. All women over 65 and men over 70 should make an appointment for a bone density test. Menopausal women with pre-existing risk factors should also consider a screening. Height loss, evidence of bone loss, and back pain are all symptoms that may warrant a test.
There are several different methods for bone density testing. Your provider at The Mollen Clinic may recommend a method based on the severity and location of your symptoms or condition.
Central DXA: Bone density of the hip and spine areas is tested with this method. Technicians use an x-ray technology to examine the bone with minimal radiation. Patients shouldn’t be nervous, as these tests do not involve any discomfort.
Screening Test: Performed on the bones in the arm and heel, this technique utilizes three types of x-ray equipment: pDXA, QUS, and pQCT. While these tests can read density well, they are not detailed enough to identify osteoporosis. They identify people who should pursue further tests.
Schedule An Appointment With a Provider in Scottsdale, AZ
The team at The Mollen Clinic is invested in each patient’s success. Whether you need advice about how to improve your lifestyle and protect your bones or need to schedule a screening, our staff of medical professionals is eager to help you on your journey to health. To schedule an appointment with a provider in Scottsdale, AZ, call The Mollen Clinic at 480-656-0016.