Does getting a diagnosis of osteoporosis mean you need to wrap yourself in bubble wrap? Or live your life in fear of the fateful fall that may break your bones?
Being diagnosed with osteoporosis means that your bones have become thinner and are easier to break. Fortunately, this is a treatable condition. You and your doctor will need to discuss how to stop the loss of bone mass, rebuild your bones and prevent broken bones in the future.
How is Osteoporosis diagnosed?
All women over the age of 65 should talk to their doctor about being tested for osteoporosis, since it is a silent disease that may not display early symptoms.
Your doctor can order a bone mineral density (BMD) test. A BMD test is similar to an x-ray, painless and non-invasive. The test looks at how dense or strong your bones are and then compares the results to those of the average healthy adult.
You most likely won’t have the bones of a 20-year-old when you’re 75, but your test results can let you know:
- if your bone density is normal
- if your bone density is low, putting you at risk for osteoporosis
- if you already have osteoporosis
Common treatments for Osteoporosis
There are numerous ways to prevent osteoporosis effectively and reduce excessive bone loss. Here are some common treatments that can help:
Your bones are living, growing parts of your body. What you eat will largely determine how strong your bones are. A well-balanced diet will help make sure that you are getting the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need for happy, healthy bones.
The National Institute of Health recommends adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Most people over the age of 50 may benefit from 1,000 mg of calcium and 800 units of vitamin D (Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010) per day.
When you exercise, you are not only building muscle but strengthening your bones, since physical activity can help you grow new bone tissue. The most recommended types of activities for people with osteoporosis are:
- Strength exercises using free weights or resistance bands
- Aerobic and other weight-bearing exercises
- Flexibility exercises
- Balance and stability exercises
Remember that if you have osteoporosis that your bones are weak, so treat them with respect. When you are starting a new exercise program or other activity, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist trained in osteoporosis treatment. Look for exercises and activities that do not have any sudden or jarring movements.
The National Institute on Aging recommends avoiding activities that put strain on your spine, such as twisting or bending forward at the waist, including sit-ups, toe touches or swinging a golf club.
Your doctor may talk with you about prescribing medication that will slow down the rate of bone loss or help rebuild bone material. Some of the common types, such as estrogen, focus on regulating or balancing your hormone levels.
Health Recommendations for living with Osteoporosis
Put away your bubble wrap and prepare to start or continue to enjoy an active lifestyle even if you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis. However, with activity comes the risk of falls.
Falls can result in a broken hip, wrist or spine and can have deadly consequences. The Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis states that:
- One out of five people with a hip fracture will die within a year after their injury
- One out of three independent adults who fracture a hip will spend at least a year in a nursing home
Ironically, staying at home and not moving can actually increase your chance of falling. The National Institute of Aging states that a fear of falling can lead to:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance
- Poor coordination
Regular exercise can keep your muscles and bones stronger and more flexible, helping prevent you from falling. If you feel nervous about being active on your own, the fall detection technology on the Lively Mobile Plus medical alert device can be one way to ease your mind while you are staying active. The technology senses the sudden movements that lead to a fall and will activate an urgent response agent who can assess your situation and get you the help you need.
A diagnosis of osteoporosis is a reminder to stay active and focus on improving the health of your bones.