Osteoporosis is Latin for "porous bones" and is a condition associated with aging. It is a common diagnosis for some 53 million people in the United States. While most think of bones as hard and lifeless, in reality they are living tissue! Osteoporosis occurs when the size of the honeycomb-like component of bone increases in size, as shown below:
When this process occurs, bones become more susceptible to injuries like fractures, which can lead to a host of other health problems. In this post, we will address some myths about osteoporosis in an effort to separate fact from fiction, and tell you exactly what you need to know about your bone health!
MYTH #1: EVERYONE GETS OSTEOPOROSIS
While osteoporosis does affect a large portion of the aging population, it is not considered a "normal" aspect of aging that happens to everyone. Certain populations are more at risk (read on for more information!), however it is possible to maintain a healthy amount of bone density and bone quality throughout life. Keep in mind that bone mass typically peaks around the age of 25, so it is important to implement preventive strategies from a younger age to maintain the highest plateau or at least slow the decline of bone loss throughout the lifespan.
MYTH #2: ONLY WOMEN GET OSTEOPOROSIS
While it is true that women have a greater risk for developing osteoporosis (mostly due to hormone changes that occur during menopause), men can develop it as well. Unfortunately, it seems that men are not evaluated as much as women early on because it tends to appear later in life for men. In the U.S., about 2 million men have osteoporosis and about 12 million more are at risk for developing it.
MYTH #3: IF I'M THIN AND HEALTHY, MY BONES ARE HEALTHY TOO
Unfortunately, while being thin can be beneficial for many aspects of our health, it also is a risk factor for developing osteoporosis. Those who are considered underweight or naturally slender must work a little harder to keep their bones strong. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training have proven to be effective in combatting losses in bone density, along with proper nutrition and medications if necessary.
MYTH #4: I CAN ONLY BREAK A BONE IF I FALL
We often associate broken bones with falls, which is the most common way to sustain a fracture. However, after your bones have become weakened by a loss of density, other things such as heavy lifting, stepping or twisting the wrong way, or minor traumas can also cause broken bones. In addition to practicing your balance and learning about fall prevention, you should also ensure that you practice good body mechanics and avoid positions that could result in a fracture.
MYTH #5: IF I'VE BEEN DIAGNOSED, IT'S TOO LATE
It's never too late to improve your bone health! While there are different stages for osteoporosis, preventing further loss of bone density can be accomplished. For most individuals, this involves a combination of medication, proper nutrition, and physical activity. If you are unsure of how to best address these components, speak with a healthcare provider who specializes in osteoporosis to ensure you get the right information for your body!
Hopefully these explanations have cleared up any confusion you may have heard about osteoporosis. In short, it is possible to achieve a plateau or at least slow down the rate of bone loss, no matter your age- if you have questions about how exercise and fall prevention can benefit you, call us (602-448-8785) or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) today.
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