Healthy bones are strong and relatively solid. If you were to look at healthy bone under a microscope, you’d see a honeycomb-like pattern with the tiniest of spaces between dense frameworks of bone tissue.
When a disease known as osteoporosis develops, bones become weaker and porous. If you were to look at the bones of someone with osteoporosis under a microscope, you’d see large holes and spaces within the framework of bone tissue.
Your care team at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, believes women should have a full understanding of what osteoporosis is and how it can be prevented and treated. With that in mind, we’d like to share the following facts about this condition.
Fact #1: Osteoporosis is a common condition.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or a condition known as low bone mass, which places them at increased risk for developing osteoporosis.
Fact #2: Osteoporosis primarily affects women.
Approximately 80% of Americans with osteoporosis are women. It’s especially common in older women (over age 65), although younger women can get it also.
Fact #3: Osteoporosis is a common cause of broken bones.
Roughly one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis, according to the NOF.
Osteoporosis makes bone breaks more likely because bones aren’t as resilient when they’re porous and weak as they are when they’re dense and strong.
The most common bone breaks in people with osteoporosis occur in the hip, spine, or wrist. It can also lead to a stooped posture when it affects bones in the spine. Bone breaks can cause pain and disability.
Fact #4: Osteoporosis is often a silent disease.
In its early stages, osteoporosis tends not to cause symptoms, which is why it’s often referred to as a silent disease. In fact, some people don’t even know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone.
To check out your bone density, we can perform what’s known as a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) bone density test. A DEXA scan tests your bone strength and is the only sure way to determine whether have osteoporosis or osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.
The DEXA scan, which takes as little as 10-20 minutes, is painless and uses a very low amount of radiation.
Fact #5: You can take steps now to keep your bones strong.
Bone loss can occur for several reasons. One of the most common is that your body doesn’t get enough calcium and vitamin D from the foods you eat. These nutrients help keep bones (and teeth) healthy and strong.
Bone loss also speeds up after menopause, when hormonal changes affect your body’s ability to make new bone as fast as you need it.
Fortunately, women of any age can take steps to protect their bones. Some of these steps include:
- Eating foods every day that contain bone-boosting calcium (such as dairy, nuts, leafy greens, and fish) and vitamin D (such as fatty fish and fortified dairy, cereal, or soy foods)
- Taking vitamin and mineral supplements when directed to do so by your doctor
- Getting regular weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, jogging, dancing, or lifting weights)
- Drinking only in moderation
- Quitting smoking
If your doctor recommends taking osteoporosis medication, doing so can help reduce your risk of breaking a bone.
Know your risk
Your care providers here at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati can help you take great care of your bones. We work with you to decide when to have a bone density test and whether you could benefit from osteoporosis medication.
To optimize your bone health, call our office to schedule a visit, or request an appointment today.