- or lessen - a dowager's hump.
End back pain. Be taller.
There IS Something You Can Do About It!
fragile bones that break easily, too frequently resulting
in hip fractures and the stooped posture called dowager's
hump--is occurring in epidemic proportions in the U.S. For
those who are affected, it can be painful, disfiguring, and
HOW TO PREVENT OSTEOPOROSIS
requires a combination of nutrition, exercise, and/or medication.
Proper nutrition is vital. You must have enough calcium, which
builds bones, and vitamin D, which helps absorption of calcium.
(Find out more in Stand Tall.)
Exercise should be part of your daily routine for osteoporosis
prevention. The best exercises are those that work the muscles
harder than they would work normally. Activities such as weight
lifting, walking, dancing, stair climbing, step aerobics,
jogging, hiking and tennis are all effective at building bone.
Exercise also affects the hormones that control bone remodeling,
shifting the balance toward new bone formation. (Find out
more in Walk Tall.)
Most of the available drugs -- as well as estrogen replacement
therapy for postmenopausal women -- help prevent bone loss.
When bone mass is increased, it happens as a result of this
slowing down or stopping further bone loss. (Find out more
in Stand Tall.)
SHOULD PREVENTION BEGIN?
prevention of osteoporosis should begin early.
activity in childhood is an important determinant of
peak bone mass. Studies have shown that exercise habits started
before the age of 10 continue throughout life.
you are a teenager or young adult, it may be
difficult for you to imagine that today's poor nutrition,
exercise and lifestyle habits could lead to disability in
your later years.
you are menopausal, and you haven't already started
a program of prevention, it's not too late to begin. Don't
wait until you have a symptom -- the only symptom is a fracture.
YOU AT RISK?
is important to find out. Osteoporosis is not just a problem
for postmenopausal women; it is a lifelong concern for everyone.
Although some people are more at risk than others, this life
threatening condition affects both men and women and crosses
all ages (including children), ethnic groups, and lifestyles.
there are no symptoms, almost three-fourths of those with
fragile bones are not aware of it.
to Sara Meeks, "I recently gave a seminar at which a 28-year-old,
well-built, healthy looking man stood up and volunteered the
information that he had recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis
by bone density scan. To look at him, it was impossible to
tell." Meeks also describes a 15-year-old boy, an athlete,
a wrestler, who had osteoporosis.
YOU BE CONCERNED?
Everyone should take osteoporosis seriously. Do you think
that any of the following statements pertain to you?
I am a man; therefore I cannot have osteoporosis.
2. I am a teenager; therefore I cannot have osteoporosis.
3. I am taking estrogen; therefore I cannot have osteoporosis.
4. I take calcium; therefore I cannot have osteoporosis.
5. I exercise regularly; therefore I cannot have osteoporosis.
6. I don't smoke or drink; therefore I cannot have osteoporosis.
7. There is no history of osteoporosis in my family; therefore
I cannot have it.
8. I do not have back pain; therefore I do not have osteoporosis.
statements are all NOT TRUE. No matter who you are,
your family history, your dietary or lifestyle habits, you
can't ever assume that you can't get osteoporosis.
YOUR BONES ARE GETTING THINNER AND WEAKER?
has no symptoms. You have no warning that a bone is weak enough
to fracture. But there is a sure way to know if you are at
risk of a fracture. Get a bone density test. If your doctor
does not suggest one, ask for it.
of the most accurate tests is called a DEXA. It's painless,
takes just a few minutes, and has virtually 100% accuracy.
You will learn whether your bone mass is normal or below normal.
If it is low, you must take steps to stop bone loss and build
new bone as soon as possible, before a weakened bone breaks.
is like a "mild case of osteoporosis." It means the bones
have started losing mass but so far the risk of breaking is
very small. Osteopenia is a warning that bone is being depleted.
If you don't stop the bone loss, it will get worse, until
actual osteoporosis results.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
you have had one or more fractures . . . if you are in pain
. . . if you have trouble with breathing or digestion . .
. if you have become shorter . . . if you are stooped over
("dowager's hump") you can be helped. You can stop the bone-depleting
process and even add bone mass. Here's how:
Develop good posture with body alignment exercises. When
you straighten your body alignment, back pain is relieved,
breathing and digestion improves, and you will be less likely
to fall. If you have a dowager's hump, it will lessen somewhat.
You will become a little taller and look better.
Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
Exercise. No matter how frail you may be, there are safe
exercises starting at a low level that can help build up
EXERCISES SHOULD YOU AVOID?
exercises can actually do harm if you have low bone mass.
(See American Physical Therapy Assn.
twisting or flexion of the spine can cause a compression fracture.
When you do flexion exercises, the back flexes, or bends forward,
and the spinal vertebrae compress, thereby increasing the
risk of crushing or breaking a bone if the spine has been
weakened from osteoporosis. Avoid crunches, sit-ups, straight
leg raises, toe touches, and knee-to-chest movements.
especially careful if you or someone you know is a senior,
participating in seated exercise classes. Sitting is the position
of greatest compression on the spine, and the risk of a compression
fracture is increased by bending forward or bringing the knees
up to the chest.
information given here is from two prominent authorities:
Morris Notelovitz, M.D., Ph.D., noted clinician and
researcher who founded the first women's clinic in the U.S.,
and Sara Meeks, P.T., a physical therapist who specializes
in the treatment of osteoporosis, postural problems, back
pain, the frail elderly and the mature athlete.
and adapted from two books:
(click on the title to learn more about them and how they
can help you)
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The information on this website is provided as general health
guidelines only and not as medical advice. The illustration
"The Shrinking Woman" ©
1987 by Triad Communications, Inc.