If you have osteoporosis, treating the condition directly -- with medicines
or calcium supplements -- is obviously important. But it's also crucial to do
everything you can to avoid the most serious risk of osteoporosis: broken
bones. Practicing fracture prevention is a vital part of your osteoporosis
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.
Although osteoporosis cannot be reversed, it can be prevented and treated in a variety of ways.
There's calcium and vitamin D, both key to bone health. Exercise is another critical part of strengthening bone mass. There are drugs on the market that slow bone loss and even hold promise of building new bone.
WebMD takes a look.
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?
Although the argument makes intuitive sense, it's actually backward. The
fact is that exercising reduces your risk of falls.
"Keeping physically active helps your reflexes stay sharp and your muscles
stay strong," says Shreyasee Amin, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic
in Rochester, Minnesota. "That can help with coordination and lower your
risk of falling." If you're fit, your balance is better, and that makes you
much less likely to take a fall than someone who has become bedridden and