More than 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or are at risk for the disease. This makes it one of the most prevalent conditions affecting bone health. Understanding your risk for osteoporosis can help you prevent the disease or slow its progression.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become brittle and weaker. Each bone in the human body is actually made of living tissue. Cells in the bones continually break down old tissue and build new, stronger bone. When the rate of new bone creation can’t keep pace with the rate at which bones are broken down, osteoporosis is the result.
In the earliest stages of osteoporosis, people do not experience any clinical symptoms. As the disease progresses, patients often develop a stooped posture, become shorter in height and experience back pain. Additionally, people with osteoporosis are at much higher risk of bone fractures. Even a mild fall or injury can cause brittle bones to crack.
Who Is at Risk for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can happen to anyone, but certain groups of people are at greater risk. Consider the following factors and talk to your osteoporosis specialist to determine your risk:
- Increasing age. The incidence of osteoporosis increases as people grow older. Being over age 50 puts you at higher risk.
- Being female. Women are significantly more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
- Racial background. People of Caucasian or Asian background tend to experience osteoporosis at higher levels than those who are African American or Hispanic.
- Small body frame. People with a small body frame have less bone mass to begin with, making them more vulnerable to thinning or brittle bones.
- Family history. Having a parent, sibling, or other close relative with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk.
- Levels of sex hormones. The primary sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, help to regulate bone tissue. Reduced levels of these hormones during aging may increase your osteoporosis risk.
- Having an inactive lifestyle. Frequent exercise, particularly weight training, can prevent the loss of bone tissue. Those with a sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk.
- Low levels of vitamin D or calcium. Calcium and vitamin D are among the most important nutrients for bone health. Ask your doctor if you’re getting enough nutrients.
If you think you may be at risk of osteoporosis, contact a Long Island orthopedic expert who specializes in the treatment of osteoporosis and degenerative bone diseases today. Your doctor may recommend a bone density scan to assess your current bone health. The doctor can also recommend lifestyle changes or potential treatments to keep your bones healthy.