My mom tripped on an area rug a few weeks ago, causing her to fall and fracture her pelvis and hip. According to her physician, it was the “best” hip fracture to have; she only needed three rods in her hip instead of a hip replacement. After a few weeks in a rehab facility, thankfully she is back at home and is regaining her mobility. In the past, she’s also had multiple compression fractures in her spine. Why so many bone breaks? Just like her mother before her, my mom suffers from osteoporosis.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis (“porous bone”) is a disease of the bones. Osteoporosis can be the result of losing too much bone, making too little bone, or both. Bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from simple actions, like sneezing or bumping into furniture.
Parts of healthy bone look like a honeycomb under a microscope. In bones affected by osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much bigger than they are in healthy bone. The bones have lost density or mass. Many people with osteoporosis notice that they are getting shorter over time, which is due to the weakening of the bones of the spine (vertebrae).
Caucasian women, and older women, are at highest risk for developing osteoporosis; however, osteoporosis and low bone density are also common among other groups – even men can develop osteoporosis. Here are some of the risk factors:
- Being over age 50
- Being female
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Low body weight/being small and thin
- Broken bones or height loss
- Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D
- Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
- Consuming too much protein, sodium and caffeine
- Having an inactive lifestyle
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Losing weight
I do not want to suffer with osteoporosis like my grandmother and mother, so there are things I’m doing to help prevent it and you can too, if you are at risk:
- Take calcium. I’ve been doing so since I was a young adult, and have started taking Vitamin D, which helps the bones absorb the calcium, in order to decrease my chances of getting osteoporosis.
- Do weight-bearing exercises. This is important for preventing osteoporosis, so I do a lot of walking and participate in two dance classes.
- Do muscle-strengthening activities. This can also strengthen bones, so I plan to add this to my fitness routine also.
People used to think that osteoporosis was an inevitable part of aging. Today, there is a lot more known about the prevention, detection, and treatment of this disease.
You are never too old to take care of your bones!
- Try this fun game on bone health!
- Check your local Oasis education center's program offerings for classes on strengthening bones.