Factors That Lead to Osteoporosis

Good orthopedic health is necessary to your overall well-being. Osteoporosis is an all-too-common orthopedic condition that affects many older Americans. 

At Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we’re thrilled to have Jennifer Childers, PA-C, National Osteoporosis Foundation ambassador, and nurse Christy Jones, APRN, on our team. Both provide expert bone health care to help prevent and to treat osteoporosis in addition to our board-certified orthopedic surgeons. 

What is osteoporosis and why is it a serious health problem? 

Osteoporosis is a bone disease. When you have this condition, your bones have lost an excessive amount of mass and/or density. When this occurs, bones weaken and are more vulnerable to breaking.   

Experts say that about half of women and 1 in 4 men over age 50 break at least one bone caused by osteoporosis. Having a bone fracture limits your mobility in some ways and requires a rehabilitation period. Most osteoporosis fractures occur in the hip, spine, and wrist. 

If you have osteoporosis in your spinal vertebrae, it can lead to loss of height and curved posture. About 20% of seniors who break a hip die within a year from the surgery itself or complications afterward. 

How can I tell if I have osteoporosis? 

Don’t wait until you break a bone to find out you have osteoporosis. By that time, the condition may have progressed significantly, placing your health at greater risk for more problems. 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines call for screening for osteoporosis for women over age 65 and women who have serious risk factors for the disease. Our staff provides diagnostic screening according to these guidelines with a standard bone mineral density test, commonly called a central DXA test

Risk factors for osteoporosis

There are many risk factors for osteoporosis, but you can take steps to prevent it, or slow the progression of the disease if you do have it. 

Age

Bone is living tissue; old cells are shed, and new ones replace them. Your body has the most bone mass you’ll ever have at age 30, and decreases each year after that. As you age, you lose bone faster than you did when you were young, and you don’t replace it with new bone quickly enough, weakening your bones. 

Gender

Women over 65 are especially at risk, although the disease also affects many older men as well. 

Race

Asian and Caucasian women are most at risk for osteoporosis. If you’re an African-American or Mexican-American woman, your risk is lower.  

Body composition

If you have small bones (look at your wrists and compare them with others), you have less bone to begin with than someone with larger bones. If you’re thin and small-boned, you’re at greater risk than others. 

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can make you more susceptible to osteoporosis. For example, if you’ve had breast cancer and your estrogen level has dropped prematurely, you’re at greater risk of osteoporosis. 

Estrogen is a protective factor, and its loss is a major reason older women are more prone to the condition. Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions are also risk factors.

Lifestyle

Your lifestyle can be a factor that helps you avoid osteoporosis or a factor that puts you at risk. Take an inventory of your health habits. 

Don’t be a couch potato. Leading a sedentary lifestyle causes major bone loss. Being sedentary means you’re not in good physical shape, increasing your risk of a fall. 

Smoking and heavy drinking are also risk factors for the disease. 

Fad diets and poor eating habits in which you don’t receive enough calcium and vitamin D also increase your risk for osteoporosis. Your doctor advises you whether you need to take vitamin D3 and calcium citrate. 

As you age, your body is less able to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat, so vitamin supplementation is important. 

Call Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in West Memphis, Arkansas, or Collierville, Tennessee, or book an appointment online for excellent osteoporosis care and for all of your orthopedic needs.

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