Osteoporosis is commonly associated with women, and indeed, this bone loss condition does affect some 200 million women around the world every year. But almost 40 percent of these victims are men, and male osteoporosis diagnosis are expected to climb a stunning 310 percent by 2050.

So, over the next several decades, bone health among all their patients over 60 will become an increasingly large priority for most orthopedic professionals. There are a number of ways to enhance bone health for this age group, and nearly all of them simply involve educating the patient as to their availability and empowering the patient to take advantage of these chances.

 

Bone Density Scan

The first step in osteoporosis prevention is determining if there is a problem at all, and if there is, measuring the extent of this problem. A bone density scan may be the only way to reliably obtain such information. Women over 65 and men over 70 should have annual bone density scans.

Physical Activity

Moderate exercise not only boosts bone density, it also improves balance and coordination, thus reducing the strain on bones and lowering the risk of falls even further.

Any weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones. There is a long list of activities in this category that are rather easy to participate in, including:

  • Running,

  • Climbing stairs,

  • Walking, and

  • Tennis.

If mobility is an issue, the patient may engage in water aerobics or yoga, so there really is no excuse. One of the best exercise machines for the elderly might be an option as well. Such machines also address motivational issues, as patients can easily use them while watching TV or engaged in other activities, since the goal is moderate exercise and not intense activity.

Strength training is a very good tool as well. Muscles pull on bones during these exercises, thus increasing bone density. Wrist and ankle weights are an excellent way to integrate strength training into a daily routine. Designated exercise, such as weightlifting or using weight bands, usually works very well as well, provided that a personal trainer is on hand for at least the first session or two.

Diet

Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium. Fat-free dairy products are usually preferable, since metabolism slows with age and the added fat calories can be an issue. Fish has ample calcium as well, and there is also emerging evidence that the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish may contribute to bone health almost as much as calcium. Finally, leafy green vegetables usually have high amounts of Vitamin D, which has also been linked to bone health.

Use caution with dietary supplements. Since the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate these substances, their manufacturers often make inflated claims about their efficacy. Moreover, there is some evidence that consuming substantially more than the 100 percent recommended daily allowance of a vitamin or mineral could have some adverse health effects.

Limit Caffeine and Salt

Researchers know that there is a connection between caffeine and loss of bone density, but they are split as to the underlying cause.

One theory is displacement, viz, people who consume large amounts of caffeinated drinks do not consume as much milk and other healthy beverages. Others opine that cola’s phosphoric acid drains calcium out of the bones. A few believe that the caffeine itself is responsible, but the fact that black tea (which contains caffeine) is not linked to bone loss seems to belie that theory.

Sodium is linked to bone loss as well, largely because it increases urinary calcium, resulting in the loss of an additional 1 percent of bone mass every twelve months. Studies have also confirmed that decreasing sodium decreases urinary calcium, substantially halting this loss or even preventing it altogether.

Working together, doctor and patient can significantly increase bone health and also quality of life.

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