May is Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month; osteoporosis can be a scary diagnosis, especially if you are still relatively young and active. This disease usually is progressive in nature; you may be instructed to limit activity and be cautious with higher-impact exercises. Since this condition can impact daily life so extensively, Rosetta Radiology recommends that at-risk patients follow these prevention tips and come in regularly for a DEXA bone density scan.
What Is Osteoporosis?
“According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone density that puts them at risk for the disease.” –HealthyWomen.org
Osteoporosis is a condition whose name literally means “porous bones.” This name is fitting, especially when you compare healthy bone structure to osteoporotic tissue under a microscope. Unfortunately, some presentations of Osteoporosis are silent; you may not even know your bones are brittle until you break one under strange, seemingly unwarranted circumstances.
However, there are some consistencies, prior to bone breakage, that many patients experience. If you notice any of these five obvious signs, you may have Osteoporosis: fragility-related fractures, chronic back pain with no apparent cause, loss of height or a change in posture, difficulty in getting up without using your arms, or vitamin D deficiency.
Are There Ways To Prevent Osteoporosis?
While the specific mechanisms of just how this disease develops are unknown, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Unfortunately, some people will still develop this bone disease, even following these prevention tips. If you are over the age of 65 or have many risk factors, you may need a bone density (DEXA) scan every year.
1- Weight-Bearing Exercises
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that bone is a living tissue. Bones respond to increased stress by increasing their mass; likewise, when they are left unused, the critical calcium structure may be allocated elsewhere if your body needs it. Bone density can be both increased and depleted based on a number of factors, of which weight-bearing frequency is one. By avoiding sedentary lifestyles, we can all greatly decrease our risk for developing osteoporosis.
2- Calcium Needs Vitamin D
Few people know how important Vitamin D is in our body’s process of absorbing calcium; vitamin D helps our intestines absorb calcium much like vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Since calcium and phosphorous are the main components of bone mineralization, it makes sense that we would need to make sure there is adequate calcium in our diets. However, we can’t forget about the importance of vitamin D.
3- Change Up Your Diet
As we mentioned above, calcium and vitamin D should be priorities in a diet that aims to minimize your risk for osteoporosis. However, there are some compounds that you should know to avoid as you develop a healthy diet: phytates (found in unsoaked legumes), oxalates (found in spinach), and excess sugar and salt. These have all been found to either affect calcium absorption directly or encourage calcium to be leeched from the bones.
4- Limit Alcohol, Quit Smoking, and Limit Steroid Use
You probably don’t need to hear any more reasons to quit smoking, but osteoporosis and smoking appear to be connected. It’s also advised for at-risk patients to limit alcohol consumption, based on current research. Additionally, steroid use has been linked to severe bone loss; if you have allergies or other conditions that require regular steroid injections, talk to your doctor about the risks.
5- Reduce Stress
Aside from being a generally uncomfortable state of mind, there are physiological downsides to chronic stress. Cortisol, a hormone produced during stressful moments and days, can be dangerous when it doesn’t subside like it’s supposed to. According to an in vitro study from 2001, “cortisol decreases the replication of cells of the osteoblastic [cells that create new bone tissue] lineage.”
The bottom line is this: you may not know that you have osteoporosis until you have already broken some bones. For this reason, it’s essential that at-risk patients be made aware of these prevention tips; at-risk individuals should also have regular DEXA scans and yearly physicals to assess bone stability. Here at Rosetta Radiology, we want you to live your best life and not have to worry about unwarranted breaks! Schedule your DEXA scan with our staff today.