Ask Sofia: How Can I Better Manage My Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis – when creation of new bone tissue no longer keeps up with the loss of older bone – affects more than half of the population age 50 and up, with post-menopausal women at especially high risk for this condition that causes bones to become brittle. The particular challenge with osteoporosis is avoiding falls and injury, since even a small stumble or severe cough can lead to fractures of the wrists, hips or spine.
If you’ve received an osteoporosis diagnosis or are concerned about bone density, these tips can help you manage this condition and avoid injury:
- Move. While it might be tempting to avoid exercise, weight-bearing exercises such as walking, tennis, strength training, yoga and dancing can strengthen bones and prevent further injuries. Even better, exercise enhances balance, which can be a lifesaver on icy sidewalks. Activity can also help with recovery and pain reduction. Make sure you talk with your doctor about an appropriate exercise regimen after a diagnosis of osteoporosis or a fracture.
- Fill up on calcium, vitamin D and superfoods. Calcium helps build strong bones and vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. In addition to dairy, such as Greek yogurt or milk in fortified cereals, good options include dark leafy greens, fatty fish and grass-fed meat, smoothies, beans and eggs. You can also discuss the potential need for additional supplementation with your doctor.
- Quit smoking and moderate alcohol intake. Smoking can lead to further bone loss, in addition to other health issues, and drinking more than two glasses of alcohol per day can decrease bone formation and increase risk of falls.
- Make simple changes at home and work. Even if you are a fan of four-inch heels, flats or low-heeled shoes can reduce the risk of a fall. Pay attention to loose cords or rugs that tend to bunch up. Ensure that you can easily get in and out of bed and the shower and enhance lighting in darker areas. All of these simple changes can reduce the risk of injury and make it easier to move throughout your day.
“Sometimes when we receive a diagnosis, it feels frightening or overwhelming, but you can take some simple and effective steps and incorporate moderate changes into your life to help you manage osteoporosis, so it isn’t managing you!” said Dr. Amy Hammers.