Preventing broken bones as you age
We’re all familiar with efforts to maintain cardiovascular fitness and to stay up-to-date on required immunizations. What is often overlooked, however, is bone health and prevention of age-related osteoporosis and associated fractures.
As an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in fracture care, I routinely talk with my patients about risk for osteoporosis, particularly with those who have a number of risk factors including aging, physical inactivity, post menopause, smoking and patients using oral steroids for other medical conditions.
Osteoporosis does occur as we age, but the rate of progression and effects can be modified with early diagnosis and treatment. A bone density scan (DEXA), a non-invasive test that measures bone density in the vertebral spine and femur, is the gold standard for evaluating osteoporosis and risk for associated fractures. A baseline test is recommended in women at age 50, with subsequent tests performed roughly every three years after.
I often inquire about whether my at-risk patients have had a DEXA – this test often falls between the cracks as it is sometimes ordered by the internist, gynecologist or orthopedist. Particularly in my patients who have sustained a fracture, I want to be certain that we know the status of their bone health and provide appropriate treatment to prevent future injury.
One of the easiest ways to improve bone strength is to control nutrition and activity level. If necessary, osteoporosis medications are available to help slow bone loss and strengthen bone. My regular prescription for bone health is weight-bearing exercise, which helps to build new bone, along with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Treatment programs after a fracture are of value and can help to prevent future, sometimes more devastating, fractures.
Summer is here, and it’s a perfect time to soak up vitamin D that’s so essential in absorbing calcium and strengthening bone. “Own your own bone” by getting out and walking to maintain bone health. It’s an investment that will pay off years later with a reduced risk of hip and other fragility fractures.
Dr. Gregory Caronis is a board-certified Lake County orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics and Advocate Condell Medical Center. A specialist in disorders of the foot and ankle and fracture care, Dr. Caronis also practices general orthopedics and sees patients in Libertyville and Gurnee. For orthopedic questions or to schedule an appointment, call AMG Orthopedics at (847) 634-1766.
About the Author
Dr. Gregory Caronis is a board-certified Lake County surgeon with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics and Advocate Condell Medical Center. A specialist in disorders of the foot and ankle and fracture care, Dr. Caronis sees patients in Gurnee, Lincolnshire and Libertyville.