Dr. Lisa Lilienfield
We often consider the frailty and disability associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia (bone loss that is not as severe as osteoporosis) as a normal part of aging. Medical research shows, however, that it's not aging, but inactivity that causes bones to weaken and easily break. Although medications may be necessary to treat severe osteoporotic conditions, the best preventative strategy is to engage in bone-strengthening exercise, like yoga, and to make sure that you are getting the bone-healthy nutrition you need.
How Common Is Osteoporosis?
It is estimated that more than 40 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing the condition due to low bone density.1 In its early stages, the disease is likely to be painless or nearly painless, but as osteoporosis progresses and bones become brittle and break, the pain and disability can be severe. Many hip fractures occur when someone with osteoporosis falls. The complications associated with these fractures can require long-term nursing care or even lead to death.
In addition to osteoporosis, there are many other age-related health problems that increase one's risk of falling, including poor balance and posture, poor vision, inner ear imbalances, a decline in proprioception (which helps us know where our body is in space), poor circulation and medications that can cause dizziness. Each of these problems, especially in combination with a decline in bone strength, increases the likelihood of fracturing a hip or vertebrae.
Risk Factors: The condition is usually seen in individuals over 50, but it can strike at any age, and there are factors that put you at higher risk, such as:
Low body weight
Lack of physical activity
A family history of osteoporosis
Early menopause without hormone replacement
Prior bone fractures
Chronic use of steroid medications
Drinking alcohol excessively
Prevention and Treatment: