Osteoporosis and the Key to Good Bone Health

Osteoporosis is a medical condition characterized by weakened bones that are more susceptible to fractures and breaks. It occurs when the density and quality of bone becomes porous and brittle. This condition typically develops gradually over time and often doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs.

While osteoporosis is more common in older adults, particularly women after menopause, it can affect anyone at any age. Factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include genetics, hormonal changes, low calcium or vitamin D intake, lack of physical activity, certain medications, and medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or hormonal disorders.

The good news is that the body is always making and reabsorbing bone in a process is called remodeling. Bone-making cells form new bone using calcium and other minerals that come from the food you eat. When the system is in balance, the same amount of bone is built, but changes in hormone levels, activity, medications, or diet can affect the body’s ability to make new bone. This can lead to the early stages of osteoporosis called osteopenia -when bone starts to become less dense. Left untreated, bone loss gets worse and leads to osteoporosis. Weak bones can’t support the body. In fact, they can fracture just from the weight of your body. The vertebrae of the spine are one of the first places that osteoporosis can be noticed. Vertebrae can fracture and parts of the spine can be compressed causing the back to bend or hump over.

The most common fracture sites in people with osteoporosis are the wrist, spine, and hip and foot’ stress fractures. These fractures are fairly common and often caused by accidents and falls, however, with decreased bone density, many fractures happen without even an injury.

All fractures are painful and may limit what you can do. But hip fractures are very serious. They require surgery, and it can take months to recover.

Prevention and management of osteoporosis is very important and involves lifestyle changes such as maintaining a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and engaging in regular weight-bearing exercise. It’s also important to know that many factors can also speed up bone loss or decrease bone growth:

  • Alcohol is toxic to bones. It is a major cause of bone loss. Heavy drinking can cause osteoporosis even if you have no other risk factors.
  • Smoking reduces bone mass. Smoking may also interfere with estrogen levels and cause early menopause.
  • Inactivity makes your bones lose strength and become thinner. Over time, thin bones may break. Women who aren’t active are at a high risk for osteoporosis.
  • Certain medications such as cortisone increase bone loss. They also decrease bone growth. Ask your healthcare provider about any side effects of your medications.
  • Protein-rich or salty foods eaten in large amounts may deplete calcium.
  • Caffeine increases calcium loss. People who drink a lot of coffee, tea, or colas lose more calcium than those who don’t.

If you have osteoporosis, you can do a lot to reduce its effect on your life. Knowing how to prevent fractures and spinal curvature can help you live more comfortably and safely and keep your bones strong so that you can enjoy doing all the things you love.

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