Osteoporosis produces brittle bones in the spine making them susceptible to fracture

Osteoporosis is a common finding in people suffering with back pain. The primary back pain issues as it relates to osteoporosis are those of fractures. Spinal compression fractures often occur as a result of the loss of bone mineral density in the vertebrae. This loss of bone density puts the individual at risk for fractures and debilitation.

A better understanding of the cause of osteoporosis is necessary if one, who is at risk for developing the condition, is to prevent or slow the process down. Simple changes in your diet and activity levels are keys to effectively treating osteoporosis and preventing back pain.

In this article we take a more in-depth look at the causes, prevention, and treatment of osteoporosis and how osteoporosis affects back pain.

What Is Osteoporosis And How Can You Prevent It?

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women over age 65 will develop fractures due to osteoporosis. Usually diagnosed in people around the age of 60, the disease actually begins to develop around age 30 or 35. Steps can be taken to prevent the disease, but it is best to start early in life. At each stage of your life, your level of exercise and calcium intake influences the condition of your bones.

A healthy lifestyle should begin when you are young and continue throughout your life. If you are over 30, it’s not too late to start an osteoporosis prevention program to minimize your risk. Eating right and exercising at any stage of your life will help maintain bone mass and prevent osteoporosis from developing. Studies show that active people tend to maintain their bone mass more so than people who get little or no exercise.

For a woman, it is extremely important to be healthy and active in order to help her body maintain a heavy bone mass through her middle ages and beyond. It is especially important to be healthy during and after menopause. At this time in a woman’s life, there are many hormonal changes, which can lead to weak, thin and brittle bones. After menopause, it is natural for a woman’s bones to lose mass, so preventive measures should be taken to help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis during this stage of life.

Most experts believe osteoporosis can be prevented but cannot be reversed if already present. But progression of the disease can be slowed down and possibly even stopped through preventive steps.

The best things you can do to reduce your risk of osteoporosis or slow down its progression include: (Read full article here)

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has a few suggestions on how to prevent osteoporosis and keeping it from getting worse…

To prevent osteoporosis, slow its progression, and protect yourself from fractures you should include adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in your diet and exercise regularly.

Calcium
During the growing years, your body needs calcium to build strong bones and to create a supply of calcium reserves. Building bone mass when you are young is a good investment for your future. Inadequate calcium during growth can contribute to the development of osteoporosis later in life.

Whatever your age or health status, you need calcium to keep your bones healthy. Calcium continues to be an essential nutrient after growth because the body loses calcium every day. Although calcium cannot prevent gradual bone loss after menopause, it continues to play an essential role in maintaining bone quality. Even if women have gone through menopause or already have osteoporosis, increasing intake of calcium and vitamin D can decrease the risk of fracture.

How much calcium you need will vary depending on your age and other factors. The National Academy of Sciences makes the following recommendations regarding daily intake of calcium:

  • Males and females 9 to 18 years: 1,300 mg per day
  • Women and men 19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg per day
  • Pregnant or nursing women up to age 18: 1,300 mg per day
  • Pregnant or nursing women 19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg per day
  • Women and men over 50: 1,200 mg per day

Dairy products, including yogurt and cheese, are excellent sources of calcium. An eight-ounce glass of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include sardines with bones and green leafy vegetables, including broccoli and collard greens.

If your diet does not contain enough calcium, dietary supplements can help. Talk to your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. The recommendation for vitamin D is 200-600 IU (international units) daily. Supplemented dairy products are an excellent source of vitamin D. (A cup of milk contains 100 IU of vitamin D. A multivitamin contains 400 IU of vitamin D.) Vitamin supplements can be taken if your diet does not contain enough of this nutrient. Again, consult with your doctor before taking a vitamin supplement. Too much vitamin D can be toxic.

Exercise Regularly
Like muscles, bones need exercise to stay strong. No matter what your age, exercise can help minimize bone loss while providing many additional health benefits. Doctors believe that a program of moderate, regular exercise (3 to 4 times a week) is effective for the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, dancing, treadmill exercises, and weight lifting are probably best. Falls account for 50% of fractures; therefore, even if you have low bone density, you can prevent fractures if you avoid falls. Programs that emphasize balance training, especially tai chi, should be emphasized. Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.(Read full article here)

For me, the two big takeaways were …

  1. The risk factor analysis and how answering “yes” to just on of the risk factors placed you at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis. And…
  2. Your ability to prevent and slow doen the process of osteoporosis by just doing a few simple things.

Are you interested in learning more about how to assess and treat osteoporosis? If you are, please leave a comment below and we will provide more articles and videos on simple things you can do to treat osteoporosis.

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