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Preventing Osteoporosis in Your Everyday Life

Monday, June 06, 2016 10:49 AM

Skipping out on a glass of milk or forgetting to take your Vitamin D supplements don’t seem like much of a big deal in the moment. However; as we age, our bones depend more and more on nutrients to prevent deterioration as caused by osteoporosis.

Dr. George Kannankeril, NorthShore Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialist with the NorthShore Arthritis Center, recently answered patient questions about preventing and diagnosing osteoporosis, and shares some valuable information on the condition and how you can keep your bones strong and healthy.

Who is most at risk for osteoporosis? What are the risk factors?
Post-menopausal women are the most likely demographic to develop osteoporosis. Other risk factors include:

  • Low body weight
  • Chronic steroid use
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Advancing age
  • Parental history of hip fractures

Certain medical conditions can also lead to osteoporosis, including chronic liver disease, hypogonadism, inflammatory bowel disease and others.

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Typically, there are no symptoms of osteoporosis until a fracture occurs. The most common fractures involve the vertebrae and the hips. Pain may be the first sign that a fracture has occurred, but some fractures are not painful. A kyphosis or stooped posture may develop and be a sign that vertebral fractures have occurred.

What are the different ways osteoporosis can be treated?
The initial treatment for osteoporosis involves supplementing Calcium and Vitamin D if your daily intake is low. After that has been addressed, there are multiple medications that are used to treat osteoporosis. The most common of these are a group of medicines called bisphosphonates, which help reduce the rate of breakdown of bone. There are also medications that help increase the rate of buildup of bone. For certain postmenopausal women, some forms of estrogen can help as well. Other than these medications targeting osteoporosis, treating any underlying condition that is contributing to the osteoporosis is important as well.

What are some of the best foods for a diet that will help prevent osteoporosis?
The most important recommendation regarding diet in osteoporosis is taking in enough Calcium and Vitamin D, which may need to be supplemented. For people with osteoporosis related to Celiac disease, reducing gluten intake helps improve bone density.

Can exercise help strengthen the bones? What kind of activities do you recommend?
Exercise is an excellent way to help build strong bones. There is some evidence that exercise can even reduce your risk of developing fractures. Resistance training is beneficial, but so are weight bearing activities such as jumping, jogging and even walking. There is no added benefit from doing vigorous intensity workouts, so a moderate intensity exercise program is appropriate, but should be done regularly.

Do other conditions, like arthritis or rheumatism, increase the risk of osteoporosis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a risk factor for developing osteoporosis. Also of note, many forms of inflammatory arthritis are treated with steroids, and prolonged steroid use is a risk factor for osteoporosis as well. In regards to the common degenerative osteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear type of arthritis, there is no association between that and osteoporosis. In fact, there is some suggestion that having osteoporosis makes you less likely to have osteoarthritis of certain joints.