According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoporosis causes 1.5 million bone fractures every year. And these broken bones can be a lot more than painful and inconvenient. They can have a devastating and sometimes permanent impact on your health.
A bone density scan can detect thinning bones at an early stage. If you already have osteoporosis, bone scans can also tell you how fast the disease is progressing.
But an abnormal bone scan can create as many questions as it answers. Who should get a bone density scan, and what do the results mean? If your bone density is below normal, what can you expect, and what should you do?
So what can you do to avoid broken bones and painful rehab? Here's a list of six tips for fracture prevention that every person with osteoporosis should know. By asking your doctor the right questions -- and making a few changes to your habits -- you can greatly reduce your risks.
The Importance of Fracture Prevention
In people with osteoporosis, fractures can happen anywhere, but wrist fractures, hip fractures, and spinal fractures are the most common. The effects can be serious. 700,000 people with osteoporosis fracture their vertebrae every year, and many are left with chronic pain. Of the 300,000 people with osteoporosis who have a hip fracture this year, half will never be able to walk again without assistance. And a staggering 20% of people over age 50 who break a hip will die within a year from complications.
If you're older and have osteoporosis, not only are falls much more dangerous, but they're more likely too. As you age, your body's muscle tone decreases. Your vision worsens. You're more likely to need medications, which can affect your balance. Even seemingly trivial things, like needing to go to the bathroom more in the night, can up your odds of falling. Essentially, a number of minor risks associated with aging coalesce at the same time, greatly increasing the possibility of a fall and fractured bone.
The good news is that with some simple changes to your lifestyle, you can seriously lower these risks. Here's a rundown of what you can do.
Fracture Prevention Tip: Exercise to Improve Balance and Strength
Many people with osteoporosis worry about the risks of exercise. After all, if you're jogging on a treadmill or out hiking, aren't you at higher risk of falling? What could better protect you from a broken bone than sitting in a comfy armchair all day?