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Osteoporosis: Doctor-recommended lifestyle modifications for healthy bones

You need to start taking care of your bones when you are young © Shutterstock

By the age of 30, most people reach their peak bone mass. It is therefore advised that people start taking care of their bones when they are young by following a healthy diet, regular exercise and a disciplined lifestyle.

Osteoporosis comes from the words: osteo bones, porotic riddled with holes. It is a common disorder characterised by fractures with minimal trauma or force. It is a progressively debilitating skeletal condition associated with decreasing height and stooping posture. Early diagnosis is extremely important as this condition remains painless for a long time. Pain signifies fragility fracture and by that time its too late and the bones become very brittle by then. As per WHO, the prevalence of osteoporosis is more common in women and in developed countries. Dr Dhananjay Gupta, Director, Orthopaedics and Joint Reconstruction and Replacement Surgeon, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.shares some quick insights on recognizing the early symptoms of Osteoporosis and what lifestyle modifications to follow for healthy bones:

Early symptoms of osteoporosis

  • Decreasing height
  • Weakened grip strength
  • Weak and brittle nails
  • Stooping posture
  • Pain (acute and otherwise) in back
  • Fragility fractures

Lifestyle modifications for healthy bones

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  • Diet: Diet should be rich in calcium and vitamin D. For adults between the ages 20 to 50, 1000 mg of calcium and 600 units of vitamin D should be consumed. Green leafy vegetables and fish are good sources of calcium. Fortified milk and sunlight are good sources of vitamin D.
  • Physical Activity: Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running and weight training help in making our bones stronger.
  • Hormones: Hormonal disturbances affect bone health. Excess thyroid, a deficiency of oestrogen (after menopause in females) or testosterone (after the age of 70 in males) can lead to weakened bones.
  • Consumption of certain medicines: Steroids, Anti-Depressants, Anti-seizure drugs and proton pump inhibitors contribute to the weakening of bones.
  • Smoking and Alcohol consumption tends to decrease bone density at a faster rate. While smoking should be completely stopped, alcohol intake should be limited to 2 drinks a week.

Non-modifiable factors for healthy bones

  • Gender: Women are at a greater risk of developing arthritis because they have less bone tissue than men.
  • Body Structure: Thin people and people with a small body frame also have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
  • Genetics: Osteoporosis runs in families, so genetics do play a strong role.

Pain management for osteoporosis patients

  • Meditation and relaxation techniques help handle the pain psychologically
  • Appropriate exercises such as low-impact aerobics, walking and physiotherapy helps strengthen the bones and reduce pain
  • Strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support
  • Adequate sleep will ensure that the body is well-rested
  • Stress reduction is essential to reduce chronic pain
  • Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers as recommended by the doctor

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