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Moving Toward Better Health

The official blog of Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic


Protecting Your Bones

Posted by Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Thomas Konicki earned his B.S. in Biology at the University of Cincinnati and then went on to the Los Ange...
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in Health And Wellness

Question: I am 55 year old woman and I am concerned about osteoporosis. Are there any natural ways to keep my bones strong?

Answer: Yes. A calcium supplement is the most common way, but let me first explain the basics of osteoporosis. It is called a "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. Bone loss causes them to become brittle, less dense and more prone to fractures, which then causes pain. Osteoporosis affects more than 20 million women and 5 million men in this country, primarily over the age of 45.

Women after menopause naturally experience bone loss because of a decrease of estrogen. The following are additional risk factors: Caucasian and Asian decent, anorexia, bulimia, alcohol abuse, smoking, inactive lifestyle, too much protein, too little calcium, early menopause, abnormal absence of menstrual periods, thin/small builds, age, steroids, anti-seizure and thyroid medications. Low testosterone levels in men is also a risk factor.

As osteoporosis advances, the bones can be fractured even with simple actions as lifting something or sustaining an impact. Obviously, falling and breaking a hip is a major concern as recovery for an older person can be very challenging.

How does one diagnosis osteoporosis? One of the best ways is a DEXA scan. This stands for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. This uses minimal radiation (less than 1/20th of a chest x-ray) to determine the bone density of the spine, hip or wrist. One can see osteoporosis on an x-ray, but is not as sensitive as the DEXA scan.

So how can you treat osteoporosis naturally? Exercise is a major component. When you exercise, this exerts pressure on bones through muscles and gravity. Your bones respond by remaining strong. If you do not exercise, your bones have no reason to remain strong and will gradually lose density.

Lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes not being overweight, remaining active, moderating alcohol, caffeine and protein. And certainly, no smoking!

There are exercises to improve your balance and flexibility as well. This can dramatically reduce your risk of falling and subsequent fracture.

A simple exercise is to attempt to stand on one foot at a time without any support. Now try with the other foot. This forces your balance and coordination and can provide stability when walking or standing. However, do not attempt this alone and stand near a kitchen counter to prevent falling.

The federal government recommends taking 1200 milligrams of daily calcium. Some recommend up to 1500 mg per day. Most tablets come in 250 or 500 mg, so it is easier to take 1500 mg per day.

Recent research from the Women's Health Initiative finds that you must continue to take your calcium on a daily basis and not sporadically to benefit. The biggest risk is a 17% higher incident of developing kidney stones. You may not want to take this supplement if you have a history of stones. Some taking calcium also report constipation is a side-effect. Otherwise, calcium is considered very safe.

Lastly, prescription drugs including Fosamax, Evista or menopause hormones are used. Unfortunately, there can be more side effects with these drugs and you can go a long way to protect your bones through exercise, calcium supplement, healthy diet and lifestyle!

Copyright © 2008 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic. All rights reserved.

Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.

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