Menopause is the number one cause of osteoporosis. As we have the chance to grow older, the loss of bone mass will likely continue over time. If you are Caucasian or Asian, and particularly if you’re fine-boned, you may be at higher risk as you age.
The time to find out that you’ve lost bone density is before you break something. Because 1 in 10 women are affected by osteoporosis worldwide, early diagnosis and treatment will make the aging process safer. In addition, early treatment generally yields a better response.
The most common risk factors that contribute to osteoporosis are
- starting menopause before the age of 45
- losing your ovaries to illness, and
- going through chemotherapy at any point in your life
Any woman facing early menopause may benefit from the use of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, to slow bone loss. However, before undergoing HRT therapy, women need to consider the risks.
If a woman has a family history of breast, uterine or cervical cancer, HRT may increase the chance that the woman may develop the cancer. Some hormones can increase the risk of blood clotting, so if high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke are a concern, the woman should carefully consider the decision of whether or not to use HRT.
There are other medications that can increase bone mass without contributing to the risk of developing gynecological or breast cancer, or suffering from blood clots and stroke. You can opt to receive a monthly shot of Romozozumab if you are high risk, or you can take Bisphosphonates to slow mineral loss. If you can tolerate an IV, Denosumab blocks bone loss and reduces the risk of breaks.
Lifestyle Choices and Osteoporosis
There are behaviors you can leave behind and habits you can pick up to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. For example, getting plenty of calcium in your diet and taking a supplement can protect your bones.
You can also protect your bones by putting them to work. Thirty minutes of walking, three to five days a week, can protect your bones by keeping your muscles fully oxygenated and by maintaining steady blood flow around your bones. If joint pain gets in the way of a regular walk, an exercise bike is an effective way to get some weight bearing exercise while getting your heart moving.
It should be noted that water exercises, excellent for flexibility and protection against falls as we age, are not a good way to boost bone strength. That being said, water exercises such as water aerobics are a great way to get your heart pumping while protecting your joints from the harsh impact of land-based workouts.
Building up a strong core can strengthen and protect the bones in your spine. If you have a hard time getting down onto the floor and back up again, try a gentle yoga or barre class that allows you to hold onto a railing while you stretch and strengthen your body. Tai chi is also excellent for balance as the movements are slow and steady.
For something totally different, try shadow boxing. Obviously , you don’t want to land any punches, but shadow-boxing can protect your body in a number of ways. For example,
- Shadow boxing engages the muscles in your arms and shoulders
- It can strengthen your reflexes and make the action of reaching out to catch yourself if you stumble safer and faster.
- The footwork of boxing can help you find new balance points and strengthen your core.
You can also lower your risk of developing osteoporosis by stopping smoking and by managing your alcohol intake. Tobacco and liquor draw minerals from your bones. You can undo a lot of calcium and Vitamin D supplements by ending the day with liquor and/or tobacco.
Menopause takes time. As your symptoms increase, contact your doctor about a bone scan to avoid loss of bone density and the risk of a fracture or spinal curvature. Start and exercise program that will strengthen your bones to avoid density loss now and in the future. We can help, call us at (205) 352-9141. for a consultation.