The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines osteoporosis as a disease caused by a reduction in bone strength leading to the bones becoming weak and brittle with an increased risk of fracture. Early symptoms may include back pain, loss of height over time, a stooped posture or a fracture that occurs too easily. Hip and spine fractures have the most serious impact and could lead to serious disability or even death. It is estimated that more than 53 million people in the United States either already have this disease or are at high risk for developing it.
Risk factors for osteoporosis
- Your sex and age – Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis and risk increases with age.
- Race and family history – You’re at greatest risk of osteoporosis if you’re white or of Asian descent. Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk.
- Body frame size – Men and women who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk.
- Medical conditions, hormone levels and certain medications
Lifestyle changes that can help prevent osteoporosis
- More active lifestyle – People who spend a lot of time sitting have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do those who are more active. Weight-bearing exercise and activities that promote balance and good posture, such as walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, tennis and lifting weights are beneficial for your bones.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption – Regular consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases your risk of osteoporosis.
- Quit smoking – It has been shown that tobacco use contributes to weak bones.
- Balanced nutrition, body weight and calcium and vitamin D intake.
For more information about osteoporosis visit the National Institutes of Health website at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/osteoporosis.
By Holly Harmon for Puget Sound Orthopaedics