When most people think about bone health, they typically think of thinning bones being a concern as they grow older. However, most people hit their peak bone mass in their 20s. This means it is important for parents and grandparents to instill healthy habits in their children and grandchildren to decrease the risk of osteoporosis in the future, but also to reduce the risk of stress fracture in children.
In older adults, insufficiency fractures are when normal light activities, such as walking or a minor fall, result in fractures to already weak and osteoporotic bones. On the other hand, stress fractures occur when increased activity, such as running, causes fractures to bones. These typically occurs in adolescents and young adults when the bones are still healthy and have a normal bone density.
There are some risk factors for bone health that we cannot change. Race, gender, body type and family history are all factors that can increase risk for developing thin bones. Even chronic diseases or the medications we take, such as corticosteroids, can increase the risk of the bones thinning at a quicker rate, which is why you should limit the number of steroids you take in your lifetime. Diseases such as overactive thyroid, some autoimmune diseases and cancers can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis a bone disease that occurs when the bone becomes thin and brittle, and it is associated with increased risk of stress fractures. Quitting smoking and decreasing alcohol consumption will decrease you risk of developing osteoporosis.
However, there are many more risk factors that we can change. It is important that we feed our bodies the nutrients needed to build bone. This includes calcium and vitamin D. In addition, maintaining a healthy diet is important for treatment and prevention of stress fractures. Often times, high school students skip breakfast because they don’t want to wake up early to eat prior to school. When this is combined with multiple hours of sports participation, the body can “steal” nutrients from the bone to supply the body with the energy needed for sports. This imbalance can increase the risk of stress fractures.
One way to build strong bones is through weight bearing activity. Exercises such as walking, jogging, jumping, push-ups, squats and lunges are all beneficial bone strengthening exercises. These activities can provide many other benefits, including weight loss, heart health, and lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure. Best of all, these activities are free and can be done in your own home. Many Medicare insurance companies offer gym memberships/discounts for Silver Sneakers; you can check with your insurance company to see if you are eligible for this benefit.
Bone density scan or DEXA scan is a type of X-ray test that can better classify the health of your bones. You can talk to your primary care provider to see if you qualify for this testing. If you experience a fracture of any type or if you have orthopedic questions or concerns, please contact us at FHP Orthopedics & Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at 740-689-4935.