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National Osteoporosis Month

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May is National Osteoporosis Month, which is designed to raise awareness about the disease. Osteoporosis is a disease of progressive bone loss. Our bones are composed of calcium and protein. Bones become ‘porous’ when less calcium is built into the bone or the body absorbs calcium out of the bones and is unable to replace it. Osteoporosis can lead to an increased risk in factures, most commonly compression fractures of the spine. Most patients do not realize that they have osteoporosis until they have experienced a fracture of some kind.

While the exact cause of osteoporosis is unknown, contributing factors can include aging, smoking, heredity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. These are warning signs that can be indicative of osteoporosis:

  • Recurrent fractures or a fracture from a minor accident
  • Persistent, localized, unexplained back pain
  • Noticing that you are shorter than you used to be, or that your posture is becoming hunched over or stooped

NEBH rheumatologist Dr. Monica Piecyk states that although everyone will experience some degree of bone loss as they age, there are some simple preventative measures that can be taken to help avoid bone loss:

  • Make sure you are maintaining an adequate calcium and vitamin D intake.  It is best to get this from foods, such as milk, yogurt, and salmon.
  • Exercise regularly. Choose weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging and running.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use. These activities can increase bone loss.
  • If you are at high risk, talk to your doctor about screening and prevention.
  • If you notice any warning signs of osteoporosis, see your doctor.
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