May 01, 2018

Osteoporosis

Maintaining bone density

Osteoporosis

Healthy bones continuously break down and rebuild at the cellular level. As you age your bones break down faster. For women, this is especially true after menopause. When bone rebuilding can't keep pace with breakdown, bones deteriorate and become weaker. This eventually leads to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis treatments aim to slow or stop this process, allowing you to maintain and strengthen your bones, decreasing your risk of fracture.

The only way to diagnose osteoporosis is with a bone density test, which measures the amount of calcium in your hips and spine. Experts recommend that women have an initial bone density test at age 65, although factors that put you at a higher risk of a fracture may warrant earlier screening. These risk factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking or excess alcohol consumption
  • Long-term use of steroid medications such as prednisone
  • Low body weight
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • A personal or family history of low-trauma bone fractures, particularly hip fractures
  • Chronic medical conditions linked to osteoporosis, including diabetes, early menopause or chronic liver disease

Regardless of the results of your bone density test, there are measures that you can take in your daily life — such as focusing on your diet and exercise habits — that can keep your bones healthy. But if you are at increased or high risk, a medication also may be recommended.

Lifestyle choices for strong bones

A key factor to maintaining the bone density you have...