Maintaining strong, healthy bones is essential as we grow older. Daily doses of calcium and vitamin D, along with exercise, can help the body fight against bone loss. When the body lacks these vital nutrients or muscle-building activities, common bone problems often occur:
- Osteoporosis affects approximately ten million Americans. This disease silently weakens the bones, which increases the chances of fractures, and is common in older women.
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder that causes the bones to break very easily. It can cause weak muscles, brittle teeth, a curved spine and hearing loss.
- Paget’s Disease causes the bones in your body to grow larger and weaker than normal. Other symptoms include arthritis and hearing loss.
- Osteoarthrosis (aka degenerative joint disorder) is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when cartilage in your joints is worn down over time.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
A medical evaluation and tests are necessary to detect the possibility of osteoporosis. Some of these tests include:
- Physical Examination—After age 50, your height should be examined each year without shoes in order to detect any height loss and examine your spine.
- Bone Density Test—This is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs. This test estimates the density of your bones and your probability for breaking a bone. This test is administered by a DXA machine called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
- FRAX Risk Assessment Tool—This tool uses information about your bone density and other risk factors to estimate your 10-year bone fracture risk. This test focuses on the major bones such as the spine, hip, forearm, and shoulder.
What can you do if you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis?
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are ways to slow or stop the progress of the disease. In even reverse osteoporosis to some degree. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to good bone health. There are also medications available that can reduce the risk of broken bones. These medications can slow or stop bone loss and can also rebuild bone to some extent.