by Dr. Raymond Martinez
One very important aspect of Women’s Health is bone health. Having a healthy bone structure is vital for women of all ages. Calcium and Vitamin D intake is essential to maintaining strong bones. Weight-bearing activity can also help keep bones and the surrounding muscles strong.
As women age, some changes in bone density may occur. Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass, weakened bone structure and an increased fracture risk (Source:National Osteoporosis Foundation). Osteoporosis is sometimes called a “silent” disease because many women do not know there is a problem until they experience a broken bone. In particular, postmenopausal women are at an increased risk for bone loss. When too much bone loss occurs, there is an increase in fracture risk.
“In the five to seven years after menopause, women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass, leaving them at risk for fracture. In fact, one in two women over the age of 50 will have a fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetime.” (Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation)
The most common places to experience fractures due to bone loss include the spine, the hip and the wrist.
- In severe cases, spinal fractures can occur from a wrong step or by lifting a small object. Hip fractures are serious and may require surgical intervention.
- Hip fractures may cause future issues with walking or mobility. Most hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Wrist fractures can be caused by even a minor fall onto the hand or outstretched arm.
There are multiple factors that put patients at an increased risk for fracture including age, low bone density, frequent falls, low body weight, low calcium or vitamin D intake, smoking and inactivity.
It is recommended that postmenopausal women over the age of 50 discuss osteoporosis risks with their doctor. These patients are encouraged to get enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet and talk to the provider regarding any necessary supplements. Regular weight bearing exercise, like daily walking, is encouraged to build bone density and strengthen the surrounding muscles. Keeping healthy lifestyle habits, like not smoking or drinking alcohol to excess can also increase bone health.
Regular bone density screenings (or DEXA Scans) can be ordered by your physician to monitor bone health. These can be done at the same time as a mammogram.
To discuss your bone health, call Procare Women’s Clinic at 432-640-2491 to schedule an appointment.