Don’t become a hip fracture statistic

October 6, 2018

Warren Willey

Nothing can put more of a crimp in your style or dent in your quality of life than a broken bone. Ignoring blunt trauma, motor vehicle accidents, and possibly doing something really stupid; one of the primary reasons for bones breaking, particularly in older adults, is osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is extremely common with estimates that one in every three women and one in every 10 men, 55 years or older, will have an osteoporotic-related fracture. There are several risk factors for thin bones including the most obvious one, your chronological age.

Menopause or hormonal changes from any cause, nutritional deficiencies particularly vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium, too much alcohol or caffeine, and a lack of exercise all top the list.

Certain medications, including diuretics used for blood pressure, proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux, certain antidepressants, or too much thyroid hormone, are also quite guilty of thinning your bones.

Like most lifestyle related disease states, however, there is plenty you can do for it on your own accord. The first thing to consider is weight-bearing exercises. These include walking, weightlifting, using resistance bands, dancing, etc. Your bones love weight-bearing exercises and will respond kindly by preserving their mass.

Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, as well as doing your best to quit smoking, are also bone sparing activities. Nutritionally, getting adequate calcium in your diet from dairy, nuts and seeds, barley, etc., and possibly supplementing with magnesium and vitamin K — and for the time of the year we are entering where the sun has decided to leave us — vitamin D.

If you are over age 60, I would encourage you to talk to your doctor about an evaluation for osteoporosis. The gold standard of diagnosis is called a DEXA scan; however, most insurance companies won’t pay for these until you’re 65 and even then, only once every few years.

There are blood and/or urine tests to help with the diagnosis that are much cheaper and actually can be utilized to follow your lifestyle intervention. In severe cases, medications may be appropriate, but certainly not alone.

All of the above-mentioned lifestyle interventions should accompany drug therapy. Drugs should never be left as the only intervention or treatment for any condition, but especially your bone health. No matter what your age, do not become a hip fracture statistic. Start taking care of your bones right now.

Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at http://drwilley.com.

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