1)      What are the health issues that can arise from osteoporosis?

Sometimes, nothing happens, as osteoporosis is asymptomatic. However, the lower our BMD (Bone Mineral Density) level, the higher your risks of bone fracture. Most alarmingly, osteoporosis can cause sudden fractures during everyday activities that would not have otherwise affected normal bone.

The devastating and painful fractures usually occur at the spine, wrist, hip, pelvis or upper arm. They can lead to:

  • Chronic pain
  • Reduced height
  • Considerable deformity including hunching of the back
  • Loss of mobility
  • Reduced physical independence and quality of life
  • Death in severe cases of hip fractures

2)      How can one prevent osteoporosis?

1. Diet and Vitamins

To ensure that our body can counteract osteoporosis, medications for osteoporosis are often accompanied by calcium and vitamin D supplements:

– Calcium

Adequate calcium intake is essential in restoring bone health, as calcium is a major building block of bone. Choose calcium-rich foods and if dairy products upset our stomach, try other calcium-rich foods such as fish with soft bones like sardines or tofu. To maximize calcium absorption, avoid eating too much protein or salt, as large quantities of these are related to a loss of calcium.

 

– Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the key to unlocking the benefits of calcium; it helps the body absorb calcium. The best way to obtain sufficient vitamin D is 30 minutes of outdoor sunshine a day. Nonetheless, a recent study conducted in 18 countries worldwide found vitamin D inadequacy to be widespread among postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, even in countries where there is ample sunlight.

Even if we have a calcium-enriched diet, our body cannot absorb the calcium consumed unless you have enough vitamin D. Inadequate vitamin D in the body contributes to bone loss and hinders efforts to combat osteoporosis.

2. Exercise

We should aim to exercise at moderate intensity, at least 5 times a week, for 30 minutes each time, and always with warm-up and cool-down exercises. Include a variety of activities to keep all parts of the body exercised, and discuss with your doctor an exercise program that is suitable for you. It may include:

  • Resistance exercises such as light weight-training, which may help maintain bone health by strengthening the muscles around them.
  • Weight-bearing exercises including brisk walking, stair climbing, dancing, or those that require your bones and muscles to work gently against gravity.
  • Non-weight-bearing exercises such as tai chi, swimming or other water exercises, which may help prevent back strain and pain by building your trunk and leg muscles.

3. Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications can be crucial to successfully treating and preventing osteoporosis, this may include:

  • Stop smoking; smoking may increase your chance of getting osteoporosis, and many other diseases
  • Reduce your alcohol intake; heavy alcohol intake is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis, and injuries that can cause fractures.

3)      Can you explain the concept of calcium banking and how useful it is in building bone strength?

The concept of Calcium banking is to deposit as much calcium as possible during our teen years. This will help us to reach our peak bone mass. After age of 18, the ability of our bone to absorb more calcium is depleted.

It is very useful to build healthy and strong bone since very young age because it helps to reduce the chance of osteoporosis.

4)      What is the importance of screening for osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is also known as ‘the silent crippler’ because it can occur without symptoms. This is where the danger lies, as most people would not know about their osteoporotic condition until a major fracture occurs, often with devastating effects.

It is highly recommended for woman after the age of 40 to do BMD (Bone Mineral Density) scan. The gold standard one is called DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry). Unlike bone scans that require an injection of a radioactive material, the DEXA Test requires no special preparation, medication, or injection.

Dr Kevin Yip

SingaporeSports and Orthopaedic Clinic

6 Napier Road, 02-12 Gleneagles Medical CentreSingapore258499

Tel: +65 6476 2106

Fax: +65 6471 2632

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