Did you know that osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and break easily, affects one in four women aged 65 or older? Broken bones from osteoporosis cause serious health problems and disability in older women.
Unfortunately, osteoporosis is often called a “silent” disease, since you may not have symptoms until you break a bone. The good news for your bones is that you can take steps to prevent osteoporosis by building bone mass and preventing bone loss.
It’s important that girls develop strong bones when they are young because we develop 90% of our bone mass by age 18. If you had an eating disorder, poor diet, lack of physical activity, or another health problem that prevented you from building bone mass when you were younger, you will have less bone mass to draw on as you age.
Putting Bone Density to the Test
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends bone density testing for:
- Women age 65 or older
- Men age 70 or older
- Menopausal age women with risk factors
- Post-menopausal women under age 65 with risk factors
- Men age 50 to 69 with risk factors
- Anyone who has broken a bone after age 50
Testing could also be necessary if you have:
- A spine x-ray that shows a break or bone loss
- Back pain with a possible break in your spine
- Height loss of one-half inch or more within one year
- Total height loss of one-and-a-half inches from your original height
- Sloping shoulders
- Curve in the back
- Height loss
- Back pain
- Hunched posture
4 Ways to Help Prevent Osteoarthritis
Although genetics can play a role in causing arthritis, you can lessen your risk by decreasing stress on your joints. Here’s how:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid repetitive motion tasks if possible
- Switch from high-impact sports such as running to lower-impact activities like walking, biking or swimming
- Use proper exercise techniques to prevent joint and muscle injuries
How Will My Doctor Treat My Osteoporosis?
- Possibly prescribe medications to build more bone mass/prevent bone loss
- Increase your calcium
- Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D
- Encourage physical activity
ACTION ITEM: Broken bones from osteoporosis can cause serious health problems. Talk to your healthcare provider about how you can avoid this disease and learn what testing is right for you.
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