Bone is a living tissue, comprised mainly of calcium and protein. Healthy bone is always being remodeled. Small amounts are being absorbed in the body and then replaced. If more bone calcium is absorbed than is being replaced, the density of the mass of the bone is reduced. The bone becomes progressively weaker, increasing the risk that it may break. This process is termed Osteoporosis.
The word Osteoporosis means ‘porous bone’. Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that can be prevented and treated. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, Osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine and wrist.
Most people are unaware that they have Osteoporosis until a fracture occurs. The exact medical cause for Osteoporosis is not known, but a number of causes are known to contribute to Osteoporosis.
- Physical inactivity
- Reduced levels of estrogen
- Excessive cortisone
- Excessive thyroid hormone
- Excessive alcohol intake
Current treatment methods can reduce bone loss, but there are no proven methods of restoring lost bone. Building bones through adequate calcium intake and exercise when you are young is an investment that will pay off years later with a reduced risk of hip and other fractures.
A gradual loss of bone mass, generally beginning at about age 35, is a fact of life for everyone. After growth is complete, women ultimately lose 30% - 50% of their bone density and men lose 20% - 30%. Women lose bone calcium at an accelerated pace once they go through menopause.
Preventing Falls Can Prevent Fractures
Make your home environment safe. Most hip fractures are the result of falls, and most falls occur in the home. Many are preventable by recognizing the danger and eliminating any hazards.
- Provide sufficient lighting throughout the entire staircase, including top and bottom landings
- Repair loose stairway rugs or boards
- Do not leave objects on the stairs
- Do not use patterned or dark carpeting on the stairs
- Install full-length handrails on both sides of the stairway
- Place a slip-resistant rug next to the bathtub for safe exit and entry
- Place non-skid textured strips on the bathtub and shower floor
- Install grab bars, raised toilet seats, and handrails where needed
- Keep the floor clear of clutter
- Place a lamp and flashlight near the bed
- Install a night-light along the route between the bedroom and the bathroom
- Arrange furniture to provide a clear pathway between rooms
- Remove low-rise tables, magazine racks, footrest and plants from pathways
- Keep electrical and telephone cords out of pathway.
- Secure loose area rugs and runners with double-faced tape, tacks or slip-resistant backing
- Do not stand on unsteady stools, chairs or ladders
- Clean up spills immediately
- Use non-skid floor wax
- Use step stools with an attached handrail