Embry Womens Health
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when your bones lose mass or become less dense. This weakens the bone and increases the risks for fractures. As the condition worsens, bones can become so brittle that even coughing or a minor fall could cause an osteoporosis-related fracture. The hips, spine, and wrists are most susceptible and fractures occur most commonly in these areas. Other than a slight decrease in height due to changes in the spine, there are generally few symptoms associated with osteoporosis until you experience a break.
What causes osteoporosis?
For women, the loss of estrogen during and after menopause is the largest risk factor for developing osteoporosis. Taking certain medications long term, such as prednisone and other corticosteroids, also increase your chance of bone density loss.
Other medical conditions that increase your risks for osteoporosis include:
- Overactive thyroid or taking higher than recommended doses of medication for an underactive thyroid
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Kidney disease
What can I do to prevent it?
There are some things you can’t change to lower your risk for osteoporosis, such as your age, gender, and genetic makeup. A family history of osteoporosis increases your risk. Small-framed individuals are also more susceptible.
What you can do is make lifestyle changes to counteract the risk factors, including:
- A nutritious diet that provides the correct levels of protein and calcium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables and low-fat dairy products
- Regular exercise that includes strength training and weight-bearing exercise to build strong bones and slow bone density loss
- Maintaining a good body weight since both excess weight and being underweight can put you at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis
- Taking a vitamin D supplement as directed by your healthcare provider to improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium
- Avoiding excessive alcohol use since more than two drinks a day can decrease bone formation
What is the treatment if I have osteoporosis?
The nurse practitioners at Embry Women’s Health use a multifaceted approach to treatment for osteoporosis that may include:
- Medications proven to slow the progression of osteoporosis
- Lifestyle changes such as a nutritious diet and exercise program designed to improve your bone health
- Exercises that improve your balance and decrease your fall risk
- Guidance regarding modifications at home to decrease your fall risk, such as removing slippery area rugs or keeping floors free of clutter, and bath hand rails