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Osteoporosis: Symptoms and Prevention

by R. Carnavale May 22nd, 2012 | Health Observance, Prevention
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May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Osteoporosis, which means “porous bone,” is the most common bone disease, and it is marked by bone weakness and the loss of bone density over time. Either the body fails to produce new bone, or too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both.  Maybe you’ve seen an elderly person who has shrunk over the years, walks with a shuffle, or whose spine curves forward like a hunchback’s.  Chances are that person may have osteoporosis.

One in 5 American women over the age of 50 has this disease, and 50 percent of women over 50 will experience a bone fracture at some point. Note that osteoporosis affects men, too, as one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related bone fracture.

The leading causes of osteoporosis are loss of estrogen (for women over 50) and testosterone (for men over 70). Other causes include smoking, a dietary lack of vitamin D and calcium, being small and thin, a family history of osteoporosis, smoking, taking certain medications (such as steroids and anticonvulsants), a sedentary lifestyle, and having certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or a gastrointestinal disease.

Symptoms include bone pain, fractures, loss of height, low back or neck pain, and/or a stooped posture.

A physician will diagnose osteoporosis by taking a patient’s medical history, conducting a physical exam, and administering a bone density tests. In addition, a physician might take X-rays, bone scans, vertebral fracture assessments, or use a FRAX score to calculate the 10-year probability of incurring a hip fracture and the 10-year probability of another kind of major osteoporotic fracture.

Treatment includes medicine (to prevent fractured bones) and physical therapy.  Given the seriousness of osteoporosis, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is through diet (check out dietpilluniverse.com) and weight-bearing exercise. Consume enough calcium (1,200 milligrams per day), vitamin D (800 – 1,000 international units of vitamin D3) and protein. Exercise regularly: walking, jogging, tennis, dancing, weight machines, yoga, and biking are highly recommended.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.