It's easy to think of bones as solid and unchanging. But bones are living tissue and, like many other parts of the body, are continually breaking down and reforming.
When you're young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases. But as you age, bone mass is lost faster than it's created. If your bone density decreases to a certain point, you have osteoporosis, meaning your bones are weakened. This puts you at higher risk of fractures from falls. Or it can mean that fractures occur due to something typically harmless such as bending over or coughing.
Whether you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis or you want to prevent it, exercise and diet can make a significant difference in your bone health.
How do I know?
Though osteoporosis can affect anyone, certain people are at higher risk. This includes women — especially those who are white or of Asian descent — people with smaller body frames and those who have a family history of the disease. Aging and menopause also are important risk factors. This is because having lower levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen, can weaken bones.
Unfortunately, people may not be aware they have osteoporosis until they experience a fracture, often in the wrist, hip or spine. In some cases, spinal fractures can occur even without a fall, which can result in back pain and an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back.
That's why screening is important. Screening is looking...
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