11 steps: prevent osteoporosis and prevent bone weakness from spinal specialist

How can I help my osteoporosis? 

How to avoid osteoporosis

The risk of osteoporosis, even in elderly women who are most at risk, can be reduced with lifestyle changes and sometimes medication, and preferably both.

Lifestyle change to avoid the accidents that cause broken bones for someone with osteoporosis includes use of diet, exercise, and fall and accident prevention strategies.  Medication and nutritional supplementation can include calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, bisphosphonates and several other prescription drugs. Fall-prevention advice includes exercise to tone core muscles, exercise to improve balance, awareness of body placement, and reaction time.  All exercise has a general body effect to increase cellular rebuilding metabolism, which improves mental and physical well-being and has a strong benefit for bone metabolism. Further, inspection of the home environment to identify and eliminate or reduce potential accident situations can minimize the chance of a fall: throwing out unnecessary rugs; using non-skid throw rugs; applying tape to the bottom surface of rugs; wearing slippers in the home with a non-slip surface; reducing clutter and obstacles on the floor and along common walk ways; improved lighting in hall ways; removing or taping to floor all electrical extension cords; making storage containers available for papers and newspapers so they are never allowed to accumulate on the floor; and removal of all furniture, appliances and decorative items that are too short to be easily and go unnoticed as to trip over.

Osteoporosis symptoms and signs

Signs and symptoms of osteoporosis include:

  • History of bone fracture from minor trauma or typical activity that would not otherwise be expected to cause injury
  • Postural changes for the individual such as sloping shoulders, increase curves of the upper back that goes backward (Dowager’s hump) or of the lower back that goes forward farther than usual for the individual
  • Lateral curve of the spine (scoliosis)
  • Loss of body height
  • Spinal pain, from neck down to tailbone
  • Hunched posture
  • Protruding abdomen
  • Bone pain and tenderness that cannot otherwise be explained by trauma
  • Back pain after prolonged sitting or standing

Osteoporosis exercises

Regular exercise can will definitely reduce the possibility or severity of  bone fracture in people with osteoporosis.  Examples of recommended exercises that affect large areas and muscle groups include:

  • Weight-bearing exercises – light to moderate walking and jogging (paying attention to avoid concrete surfaces if possible and wearing of well-padded shoes), dancing
  • Resistance exercises – light free-weights and dumbbells,  weight machines, stretching bands
  • Balance exercises – tai chi, yoga, balance boards
  • Riding a stationary bicycle – not a mobile bicycle in order to avoid potential fall injury
  • Use of a stair climber, tread mill or rowing machine

Do not use any activity or exercise that presents risk of falling (running, bicycle riding), or any high-impact exercise (running, playing basketball or tennis) that may cause fractures.  Swimming tends not to be a good osteoporosis exercise since there is little bone stimulating load applied to the long bones of the body.

Osteoporosis prevention

The most direct vitamin supplementation for osteoporosis prevention is to take at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily, and 800 to 1,000 units of vitamin D3 daily because vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption by the body.

To further prevent osteoporosis the diet should provides a good level of calcium, vitamin D, and protein containing foods.   While this tactic cannot totally stop bone loss it will supply those building block materials the body uses to create and maintain healthy bone tissue.

An osteoporosis diet should include foods those are high in calcium:

  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and collard greens
  • Salmon
  • Sardines (with the bones)
  • Tofu

Another part of osteoporosis prevention is to avoid and stop unhealthy habits that predispose to this problem:

  • Get frequent exercise
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit and reduce hard alcohol consumption
  • Practice accident avoidance strategies, discussed above
  • Avoid falls
    • Avoid walking on ice or other slippery surfaces like wet floors
    • Avoid waking alone if possible
    • Use a rubber mat in the bathtub or shower
    • Use support bars in the bathtub
    • Wear non-slip well-fitting shoes

Be aware that certain medications can cause osteoporosis.  If you are at risk  for osteoporosis you should discuss with your doctor substituting any of these drugs is possible to reduce your risk of bone loss:

  • Aluminum-containing antacids (Tums)
  • Antiseizure medicines (only some such as Dilantin® or Phenobarbital)
  • Aromatase inhibitors (Arimidex®, Aromasin® and Femara®)
  • Cancer chemotherapeutic drugs
  • Cyclosporine A and FK506 (Tacrolimus)
  • Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) such as Lupron® and Zoladex®
  • Heparin
  • Lithium
  • Medroxyprogesterone acetate for contraception (Depo-Provera®)
  • Methotrexate
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) (Nexium®, Prevacid® and Prilosec®)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) ( Lexapro®, Prozac® and Zoloft®)
  • Steroids (glucocorticoids such as cortisone and prednisone)
  • Tamoxifen® (premenopausal use)
  • Thiazolidinediones (Actos® and Avandia®)
  • Thyroid hormones in excess

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