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Dry Bones

LPNI Health Topic – March 2016
Dry Bones

We think we may never hear these words from our doctor, saying we have Osteoporosis.  What exactly is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle, so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. The most common of these fractures occurs in the hip, wrist or spine.

In the United States, more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass, placing them at risk for more serious bone loss and fractures. Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races but is twice as common in women. White and Asian women who are past menopause are at highest risk.

Bones are living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn't keep up with the removal of old bone. In most women, the rate of bone loss increases for several years after menopause, then slows down again, but continues. Osteoporosis is often called "silent" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a bone to break. This can result in a trip to the hospital, surgery, and possibly a long-term disabling condition.

Risk factors you cannot change:
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Body size
  • Family history

Risk factors you can change:
  • Sex hormones
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Calcium and vitamin D intake
  • Medication
  • Lifestyle
  • Cigarette smoking,
  • Alcohol

The good news is that osteoporosis can often be prevented and treated. Healthy lifestyle choices such as proper diet, weight bearing exercise, and vitamin and mineral treatment can help prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. Eating more fresh vegetables rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D will be helpful.  Running/walking is considered a weight bearing exercise and helps with building bones. Joining a fitness center and using the free weights or the machines to build a strong frame is beneficial. Using soup cans for weights will help to work your bicep, shoulders, and upper back. Holding other household items while working out can add weight to your exercise regime. Taking daily supplemental minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin D3 (discuss with your physician) will help your body build strong bones.   Often we do not eat the most nutritious and healthy foods to supply our body with what it needs.

A physician can order a diagnostic test called a DEXA scan. Bone density tests, (also called bone mineral density tests) quickly measure  how much calcium and other minerals are in the bones. The test, like an X-ray, allows you to lay down face up on a padded table. The scan itself takes ten to twenty minutes.  This test helps your physician to detect the risk of bone fractures.
Resources: Wed MD, National Osteoporosis Foundation, and Mayo Clinic

Linette Feltes,  BSN, RN
Parish Nurse
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Rochelle, Illinois USA
 
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