5 Ways to Take Joint Health More Seriously
When we’re young, broken bones tend to be injuries that we are able to bounce back from fairly quickly. While they’re often painful, they normally aren’t major causes for concern. As we age, however, even relatively minor breaks and fractures should be taken much more seriously. One major cause of broken bones for older Americans: Osteoporosis. And this month just so happens to be Osteoporosis Awareness Month!
Osteoporosis is a “silent disease,” robbing our bones of the calcium that makes them strong and able to withstand certain impacts. It’s much more common in women than men and typically presents itself in adults around age 50. As we age and the disease goes untreated, our risk for fracture increases exponentially. These breaks are so concerning because in some cases, severe breaks often lead to an increased mortality rate.
There are ways you can treat this disease and manage, or even improve your bone health as you get older. However, to truly understand the importance of screenings and treatments, we’d like to share some statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation and the National Osteoporosis Foundation
- An estimated 55% of the entire USA population over the age of 50 is at risk for osteoporosis
- Approximately 80% of people in the USA who suffer from osteoporosis are women.
- You are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than suffer a heart attack, stroke or breast cancer combined.
- 24% of hip fracture patients aged 50 and older die in the year following their fracture
- Osteoporosis-related bone breaks cost patients, their families, and the healthcare system an estimated $19 billion each year
Screenings, Prevention & Treatment
The stats above aren’t meant to scare you, but rather to show you that this often neglected disease can’t be ignored. There are, however, ways to protect yourself and event treat osteoporosis to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic. The NOF and IOF recommend the following as ways to treat and prevent osteoporosis
- GET SCREENED: Before the break, understand your bone density with a bone density screening. You and your provider can understand your risk level and determine the right course of action
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet every day: take a vitamin D or calcium supplement, eat calcium rich foods and eat more green veggies
- Do Weight Bearing, Muscle Strengthening Exercises: Weight bearing isn’t necessarily high impact, but they do require some impact. Walk, dance, exercise, use resistance training to strengthen your bones and joints
- Keep a Healthy Lifestyle: Eat 5 fruits and veggies a day, avoid smoking, moderate drinking, stay away from processed or salty foods, stay active
- Improve Your Balance and Prevent Falls: Perform balance training exercises, look around your home for the risk of falls and “fall-proof” your home, practice good posture, Take Tai Chi classes, have your hearing and vision checked every year.
As always, it’s important to check with your physician before beginning any exercise or supplement regimen. Only your provider can know if you’re safe to begin exercising or taking supplements. There are prescription medications as well that can treat osteoporosis, but natural methods are typically preferred before adding any new prescription medicines.
Osteoporosis afflicts many, puts many more at risk, but doesn’t have to affect you. Take the first steps to better bone health and schedule a bone density screening today. It’s quick, painless, and the first step in preventing a more serious break later in life. Afterward, talk with your doctor and understand your options. The team at Orthopaedics East and Sports Medicine Center can provide a comprehensive, personalized care plan to help protect against the affects of osteoporosis.