Osteoporosis 101

 

Osteoporosis is a disease that slowly, quietly weakens bones, often going undiagnosed – even when it breaks them. Osteoporosis is caused by low bone mass and the weakening of bone, which can lead to increased risk of fracture.1  Osteoporosis is the major cause of fractures in postmenopausal women and in older men.

Osteoporosis is a known as a “silent thief” because bone loss can occur over a number of years without any symptoms.  Unfortunately, by the time affected bones break or fracture, the disease is already fairly advanced and less treatable.2  But you can still make a positive difference with consistent efforts.

Whether you have osteoporosis, osteopenia (a midway point to osteoporosis; the bone density is lower than normal but not as severe) or good strong bones, you have to keep working on preserving your bone health.  Regardless of our age, ability, fitness level and gender, we must all mind our bones.

 

Let’s start with some stats

According to Osteoporosis Canada, osteoporosis can affect people at almost any age, however it is most common among Canadians 50 years of age or older.

  • 2 million Canadians are affected by osteoporosis
  • At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will break a bone due to osteoporosis in their lifetime
  • The most common fractures associated with osteoporosis are in the hip, spine, wrist, and shoulder
  • Fragility fractures represent 80% of all fractures in menopausal women over the age of 50 (fragility fractures are breaks that occur from simple falls, picking up groceries, sneezing, etc.)
  • Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined
  • Women and men alike begin to lose bone in their mid-30s; as they approach menopause, women lose bone at a greater rate, from 2-5% per year
  • 28% of women and 37% of men who suffer a hip fracture will die within the following year

 

This is serious business!

 

Risk Factors

There isn’t one known cause for osteoporosis.  However there are risk factors.  Some of them include3:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Low body weight
  • Low bone mineral density
  • Past fragility fracture
  • Having a parent who had a hip fracture
  • A past history of fall(s)
  • Use of certain medications
  • Certain medical conditions
  • High alcohol intake
  • Smoking

 

Assess your risk.  That the Risk Quiz.

 

How Do I Know if I Have Osteoporosis?

A bone mineral density test is usually what is used to diagnose osteoporosis and osteopenia.  Common practice is to have it done starting at the age of 65 however some doctors are having it done earlier depending on the person, their history and their overall health.  Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

 

Fractures and Osteoporosis

Watch this short video about fracture locations and osteoporosis, in particular spinal fractures:

 

What can you do TODAY to improve your bone health?

MOVE!  Exercise is one of the key elements in maintaining and improving bone health.

Physical activity places an increased “load” or force on our bones.  Bones respond by forming new bone and remodeling the bone to be stronger.

Bones need to be stimulated by physical activity – so it is necessary to be active in different ways in order to “load” or stimulate these bones and maintain their structural competence and strength4.

If you have a diagnosis of osteoporosis, consider a consultation with a physiotherapist or personal trainer trained in osteoporosis prior to increasing your current level of activity. (I am Bone Fit™ certified through Osteoporosis Canada and can help you.)

 

If you do not have a diagnosis of osteoporosis or if you do and are cleared for exercise, you want to consider the following 4 categories in your exercise regime:

  • Strength training (must include weight-bearing)
  • Balance training
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Posture and core training

 

For now, you may want to consider doing the four simple exercises in the video below on a daily basis.

 

Are You Doing Enough?

Read this blog post I wrote last year.  Lots of good info and inspiration to keep you moving!

 

Next month we will go more in depth about exercises, nutrition and movement in your daily life.

 

 

References:

1 – https://osteoporosis.ca/about-the-disease/

2 – https://osteoporosis.ca/about-the-disease/what-is-osteoporosis/

3 – https://osteoporosis.ca/about-the-disease/what-is-osteoporosis/secondary-osteoporosis/

4 – Bone Fit™ Basics Training Manual

 

 

Post by Lynne_Loiselle

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