If people get a broken bone when they’re young, it’s usually due to an accident. If they get one when they’re old, it’s often due to osteoporosis.
Bone tissue is alive, like all other bodily organs. Over time, bone cells die and are replaced by new cells. There are ways to keep your bones strong and healthy, just as there are ways to keep your heart or lungs healthy. The strength of our bones depends largely on having new bone material form as quickly as old bone material dies.
Strength training and exercise help keep bones strong and solid. So does proper nutrition. Not smoking and limiting alcohol also promote bone health. All of these things help prevent osteoporosis and the broken bones that often go with it.
It’s important to detect osteoporosis early. Having a broken bone at any age is painful and takes a long time to heal. If you have osteoporosis, healing takes even longer. Having a broken bone is also extremely inconvenient. If the broken bone occurs in the spine, it can result in chronic pain and be very difficult to treat.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men. This is because in women, the hormone estrogen helps prevent bone loss. After menopause, the level of estrogen in the body decreases and bones can become weak and brittle.
All women age 65 and older should be screened for osteoporosis. Women who are at greater risk should be screened sooner. Men should be screened as recommended by their primary care provider. Screening is done using a DEXA scan, which is a type of imaging. A DEXA scan can be ordered by your primary care provider, who will know if you need to be screened before age 65.
Osteoporosis is usually treated by a rheumatologist.