Thursday, October 4, 2012

Osteoporosis - No Bones About It

Osteoporosis. That's a word that makes many people very anxious. It’s a common health issue in our society that leads to disability for many senior citizens, especially older women. Many of us have an elderly parent or grandparent who has fallen and suffered a fracture or who has trouble with the simple tasks of getting up from a chair and walking a short distance.

In the past, we believed that brittle bones and their resulting fractures were just a normal part of aging.  Now however, we know that these problems can be the result of risk factors, some are lifestyle habits that can be changed, like bad diet, smoking, too much alcohol or lack of exercise.Others are factors over which we have no control, like family history, post-menopause, having a light weight or thin body frame.

What is Osteoporosis?

Since bone is a living tissue, it is constantly being created and replaced in our bodies. Osteoporosis happens when old bone is absorbed faster than new bone can be created.  Osteoporosis weakness bones and makes them prone to breaking. When you have osteoporosis, a simple fall can easily result in a bone fracture.  Just bending over or coughing can cause fracturing when you have osteoporosis.  Most fractures happen in the hip, wrist or spine.

According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center, more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.  That risk increases if you are female, elderly, small and thin.  Family history can also play a part since osteoporosis tends to run in families. 

Can Osteoporosis by prevented?

There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.  These include early screening, osteoporosis medications, dietary supplements and weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones. 

Get Screened

The National Osteoporosis Foundation lists the following factors for having a bone density test:

calcium vitamin D
Mary Carr, diagnosed with Osteoporosis at age 65.
  • You are a woman age 65 or over
  • You are a man age 70 or over
  • Menopausal age with risk factors
  • Post-menopausal before age 65 with risk factors
  • A man between the ages of 50-69 with risk factors

Consider getting tested for osteopenia – a precursor to osteoporosis.  Osteopenia is a condition in which your bone mineral density is lower than normal.  A bone mineral density test can be used to diagnose osteoporosis.  Having Osteopenia does not mean you will develop osteoporosis, but knowing this gives you the chance to change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.  

At this point, you might be wondering if your insurance will cover a bone density test. Well, if you are a woman age 65 and over, it probably is covered. However, if you are younger and feel you are at risk, what can you do?  According to the WebMd, the test will be covered if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  •     A fracture
  •     You are postmenopausal
  •     You are not taking estrogen at menopause
  •     You are taking medications that cause bone thinning

You should check with your insurance provider to be certain that the test will be covered for you. However, even though there may be a cost involved, the information you get from having this valuable test will pay for itself in years to come. You will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have a chance to reverse and prevent bone loss before it is too late.

Using a walker to get around, my mom used to be 5'4", now
she's 5'. Bone shrinkage due to Osteoporosis caused
curvature of the spine and painful compression fractures
in her back.

Weight-bearing Exercises

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Jogging or running  
  • Climbing stairs
  • Lifting weights
  • Playing tennis
  • Dancing 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.  Get vitamin D by eating foods such as salmon and tuna and foods fortified with vitamin D like orange juice, breads and cereals. Read our FamilyWize article Got Milk? Don’t Worry-Lot’s of Foods Are Calcium Rich!   for a list of foods that are great calcium sources.

Discounted Osteoporosis Medication

You may qualify for significant discounts – up to 75% off – on prescription medication for osteoporosis through the free FamilyWize prescription discount card.  

Some medications taken for common ailments like heartburn can affect osteoporosis, according to WebMd. Corticosteroids, such as Prednisone, could raise fracture risks. If you have osteoporosis or you are at risk to develop it, you should discuss this with your doctor. There may be an alternative medication that does not affect osteoporosis, or other measures you could take, like diet and exercise, that may counteract the affects of the medication.

You can also speak with your doctor to get more information and a better understanding of your risks. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

1 comment:

  1. My aunt was diagnosed with osteoporosis, she had a hard time dealing with it. Good thing a good friend of mine recommended us to look at a reputable online pharmacy.