Osteoporosis: Underrecognized & Undertreated

    Symptoms

    The symptoms of osteoporosis can include bone pain, fractures caused by minor trauma, loss of height over time, neck and back pain due to tiny fractures, and kyphosis, a stooped condition also known as “dowager’s hump”.

    Prevention

    A lifetime practice of weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, running, weight-lifting, skiing, hiking, and dancing) is crucial to the development and maintenance of healthy bones. Balance exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi are also excellent non-impact forms of exercise that prevent the loss of bone tissue.

    Most sources also recommend 1,200 milligrams per day of dietary calcium and 800-1,000 international units (IUs) of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 assists the body in the absorption of calcium.

    Not smoking, as well as decreasing alcohol intake, are additional healthy lifestyle practices to embrace when it comes to osteoporosis prevention.

    Treatment

    The treatment of osteoporosis includes medications to increase bone density, slow the rate of bone loss, and reduce pain. Weight-bearing and balancing exercises, increased dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D, as well as smoking cessation and decreased alcohol intake are also prescribed. Fall prevention and safety are paramount, since brittle bones with decreased density are at greater risk of fracture.

    Lower Risk Does Not Translate To Disregaring Your Health

    Osteoporosis is a serious health concern for all women as they age, and African American women should not lose sight of that fact despite the somewhat lower risk that they enjoy when compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Bone loss and the resulting fractures that it causes can be painful, debilitating, and occasionally deadly, and both ageing women and men should be aware of their risk factors for bone loss over time.

    Exercise, good dietary habits, not smoking and moderate alcohol intake are all important factors in preventing osteoporosis, as well as a lifelong practice of being more aware of this significant health issue.

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