The mother of a friend of mine in college left a lasting impression on me because of the way her brittle bones virtually destroyed her life. She was an active woman who had played tennis and gardened when she was younger, until she fell and broke her leg one day. When she tried to get around with the use of crutches, several of her ribs cracked. Afterwards, she was confined to a wheelchair. I never saw this friend, or his mother, after I graduated from college in 1970, so I don't know if she was able to survive this debilitating skeletal disease. However, I remember how frail she seemed the last time I saw her. She was only in her 50's!
Modern Treatments for Osteoporosis Help Protect Our Bones
Today, doctors have a much better understanding of osteoporosis and its causes. Although there are no real cures, they now have better ideas about how to prevent osteoporosis, as well as several methods for treating the condition. In order to diagnose osteoporosis, your doctor will probably order a bone density test at age 65 if you are a woman, or at age 70 if you are a man. Left untreated, a person can easily end up with a fracture of the hip or spine. Spinal fractures frequently lead to premature death; hip fractures often mean the person is no longer able to live independently. Learning more about prevention and treatment is important to anyone who hopes to have a long, healthy and independent life after retirement.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
There are four steps we must all take if we plan to prevent bone loss. According to RealAge.com, these steps are:
* Continue to engage in daily weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, dancing and tennis;
* Maintain you core muscle strength, especially your abs, as a way to keep your balance;
* Consume 1,200 mg. of calcium in foods such as milk, yogurt, broccoli, plus a small amount in a supplement;
* Get Vitamin D by spending 20 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen, consuming foods such as salmon and sardines, or taking a supplement containing 600 - 800 IUs of Vitamin D a day.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
There are several risk factors that makes you more likely to develop osteoporosis. Some of these are:
Low body weight, especially if you weigh less that 127 pounds;
Beginning menopause prior to age 47;
Certain medications, such as antidepressants, corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors, anti-seizure medications and some cancer treatments
Osteoporosis Guidelines for Treatment
If your physician determines that you need to be treated for Osteoporosis, they have several options.
First, try lifestyle changes such as the ones listed above. You can improve your bone density when you make changes early. If lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may recommend one of these types of medications:
Bisphosphonates to slow down how fast the bone is broken down. These medications can be taken as tablets, a nasal spray or as a quarterly or annual injection. Tablets can upset your stomach.
Teriparatide increases the bone-building cells by using a hormone to encourage new bone growth. It is taken as an injection under the skin. Long-term effects are unknown, so it is usually only used for two years.
Raloxifene is a selective estrogen-receptor modulator which acts like estrogen to slow bone loss. It can cause hot flashes and an increased risk of stroke.
Estrogen therapy is also used, although it has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and endometrial cancer.
Obviously, before opting for one of the treatments, your first choice should be lifestyle changes that will prevent the disease. The earlier you begin these lifestyle changes, the longer you can postpone or prevent developing osteoporosis.
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Phone of knee joint courtesy of morguefile.com