by Cindy Binkley, FLT Columnist
Are you one of the 44 million Americans facing the threat of Osteoporosis? If you are over the age of 50 and a woman, you have an 80 percent chance of being affected by osteoporosis. As a man you have a 20 percent chance.
What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease that gradually weakens bones, so they become more and more fragile and likely to break. These “brittle” bones may result in painful fractures of the spine, wrists, hips and other bones. Osteoporosis can turn an active lifestyle into one of disability and dependence.
Menopause is the single most important cause of osteoporosis, however there are other factors that add to the risk such as:
- family history of osteoporosis
- early menopause (before age 45)
- Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
- history of broken bones
- high intake of alcohol
- lack of regular exercise (especially weight bearing exercise)
- extended use of certain medications, such as steroids
Many women feel that osteoporosis won’t affect them if they exercise, take calcium and have no symptoms. It can! Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease — you may have it for years and not know it until you break a bone.
Don’t wait until you break a bone… Too many people believe that osteoporosis is an inevitable part of aging. It isn’t! Talk to your doctor today about ways to lower your risk of broken bones. Your doctor may recommend you have a bone density test. Which is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone.
Some factors to consider when choosing a treatment strategy are:
- severity of your osteoporosis
- other health condidiotns
- preference of medication: pill, liquid or IV
Your treatment plan may include:
- Bisphosphonates (ie. Fosamax, Boniva, etc.) are by far the most common medication
- calcium supplement with vitamin D
- an aquatic or land-based exercise program
Exercising safely is of utmost importance. Be sure to:
- Make sure you can perform an activity without risk of falling or awkward lifting.
- Skip activities that make you strain beyond your usual limits or increases your risk of falling.
- Avoid doing an activity in poor weather or under other unsafe conditions.
- Seek instruction from a physical therapist for safe exercises and correct technique.
You can learn more about osteoporosis at The National Osteoporosis Foundation at http://www.nof.org/ or the Arthritis Foundation at http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/osteoporosis.