Our bones naturally become lighter and more brittle as we age. The lost bone density can be mitigated in several ways over our lives. However, the degradation process can occur much too soon in some people. This is called osteoporosis, and it’s a cause for greater concern than the natural aging process.
Osteoporosis weakens bones, significantly increasing their risk of breaking from relatively light accidents like trips and falls. This health condition is most often noticed in the wrists, hips, and spine. Over time, people with this condition often develop the characteristic hunched posture where the bones in the spine begin to break, making it difficult to hold their body weight upright. The condition is not inherently painful, but the broken bones it leads to certainly are.
Osteoporosis can (and should) be treated directly, but there are many adjacent variables to consider. Most don’t need to live daily life in a literal bubble, but a ski vacation would be ill-advised.
What causes osteoporosis?
Women experience a greater risk of osteoporosis than men because they often rapidly lose bone density post-menopause. The risk increases even further if the woman has had her ovaries removed or undergoes menopause early. However, both genders are susceptible to the disease in every age bracket. Factors like prolonged use of steroids, anti-estrogen tablets, low BMI, heavy substance abuse, and genetics can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Other medical conditions, like inflammatory illnesses, hormone imbalances, and malabsorption conditions, also contribute to the chance of developing osteoporosis.
There is no singular cause for the condition, but risk factors might lead to the development or increase the likelihood of osteoporosis. The factors include:
- Sex (women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis)
- Age (bone density decreases with age generally)
- Body size (slender or skinny women are more likely to develop the condition)
- Race (Caucasian and white women are most likely to get the condition)
- Family history (likeliness of developing the condition increases if there is a history of it within your family)
- Changes in hormones (low estrogen in women, low testosterone in men)
- Lifestyle (a poor lifestyle and diet can increase risk)
Osteoporosis is most commonly suspected after a bone-breaking injury, leading to a bone density scan to confirm or deny the suspicion. Once diagnosed with the condition, these can be managed alongside a treatment plan to build the patient’s strength up and reduce any falls and breaks. If you have osteoporosis and would like our help in managing your condition, contact us today for a naturopathic appointment.
How to prevent osteoporosis
The easiest way to prevent osteoporosis (barring genetic predisposition) is to live a life of regular exercise, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and salt, and eating lots of leafy greens, organic wild salmon, nuts and seeds, and asparagus. These general lifestyle changes alone may help prevent the development of osteoporosis in healthy people, but they WILL NOT alone treat osteoporosis once you’ve developed the condition.
Naturopathic treatment is primarily based on strengthening your bones, but this must be done holistically. This means we’ll address your lifestyle, habits, and genetics, if necessary (not everything is as obvious as drinking less and quitting smoking). Supplements and medicine help one’s biochemistry through healthier bone turnover, improved blood flow, and osteopathic massage to improve joint and tendon strength.
Blind prescription is a potentially dangerous detour that spins your wheels for little to no discernable progress. Just because a supplement bottle at the health food store says “good for bone health” does not mean it’ll help you! The bottle, online quiz, or Instagram ad doesn’t understand the context of your osteoporosis and should only be understood in a generally educational way.
- Live with a nasty case of osteoporosis;
- Care for someone with osteoporosis;
- Worry about developing the condition because of work responsibilities or family history;
- Want to integrate bone health with your existing preventative care plan…
Whether you’re still considering your treatment options or are to proceed with an initial appointment, we offer free, 15-minute introductory consults to help you identify and clarify your path to good health.
Even though we are doctors, we are not your doctors. Talk to your doctor first if you have serious concerns.