Osteoporosis isn’t a disease that suddenly strikes in your retirement years. Bone loss is slow, but relentless, throughout your adult life. Every day gives you a new chance to make lifestyle choices that protect your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
It’s never too late to protect your bones, even after osteoporosis develops. You can strengthen and restore bones before and after osteoporosis takes hold with expert care from Behnam Khaleghi, MD, here at Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center.
He offers comprehensive osteoporosis treatment, including lifestyle recommendations and medications that slow bone loss and rebuild new bone.
Protecting your bones begins in childhood and continues throughout your lifetime. Your bones don’t stop growing in length until about age 20. After bones stop growing, they keep adding mass until a little after age 30, when you reach peak bone mass (the most bone you’ll ever have).
Your body constantly maintains strong bones by eliminating old or damaged bone and replacing it with new, healthy bone. However, after 40, bone loss outpaces bone growth. As a result, you start losing bone density.
At every age, your lifestyle can tip the balance between strong bones and osteoporosis. A poor diet, lack of exercise, and habits like smoking and consuming too much alcohol prevent you from reaching peak bone mass and raise your risk of developing osteoporosis.
You can’t stop age-related bone loss; it’s a challenge everyone faces. You can offset that loss with a lifestyle that supports bone building rather than contributing to bone loss.
Here are five steps to follow to protect your bones:
You must have calcium to build bones, and you need vitamin D to absorb the calcium you consume. A lack of either one contributes to osteoporosis. The earlier in life you establish a healthy diet providing these essential nutrients, the less likely you are to end up with osteoporosis.
Muscle movement during weight-bearing and strength-training exercises pulls on the bones. This activity is crucial for stimulating new bone growth. You can choose from a range of high- and low-impact exercises that don’t require a gym membership. For example, walking, jogging, dancing, stair climbing, and playing tennis will all build bones.
Smoking tobacco affects bone turnover, resulting in loss of bone mass and density. Excessive alcohol consumption affects bones in several ways. Alcohol may interfere with vitamin D production (from sunlight) and cause deficiencies in hormones needed to build bones, like estrogen and testosterone.
When estrogen production stops at menopause, your risk for osteoporosis skyrockets. Women typically lose up to 20% of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause. This dramatic bone loss can only be stopped with medications.
Corticosteroids (steroids) are essential medications for many rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and vasculitis. But if you take steroids for a long time, they increase your risk for osteoporosis. We carefully manage your medications and take steps to protect your bones while receiving the treatment you need.
After osteoporosis develops, you can continue to support your bones by making the same lifestyle changes. However, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to strengthen your bones after they lose calcium and weaken.
We prescribe a wide range of medications for treating osteoporosis, including:
Bisphosphonates are a group of medicines that slow bone loss, allowing your body to rebuild bone at about the same rate as it’s lost. Some bisphosphonates are pills; others require an intravenous (IV) infusion.
SERMs prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Restoring estrogen levels after menopause can prevent osteoporosis.
Calcitonin is a hormone that tells your body to retain more calcium in your bones.
Anabolic agents are medications that stimulate new bone growth.
To learn more about your risk for developing osteoporosis, call our office at Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center or request an appointment online today.