Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
What are osteopenia and osteoporosis?
You might have heard someone mentioning Osteopenia and Osteoporosis, saying that their bones aren’t as strong as they once were or that they have brittle bones. Osteopenia and Osteoporosis is a bone-related conditions that is due to the weakening of the structures of the bone, which in turn causes a loss of structural strength. We determine the strength of bones through their bone mineral density which is very common to have monitored as we age to help us become aware of how our bones are progressing. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are essentially the same condition but are used separately to determine the severity (Osteopenia being the warning sign for osteoporosis) of decreased bone mineral density.
Why does it happen?
There are a number of reasons that osteopenia and osteoporosis can develop and it is more common in females than males. Genetics, race, gender, age, activity levels, and diet, all play a factor in how our body builds up its bone mineral density. When we are young our body is constantly building its bone mineral density and its peak performance is roughly around the time we start to go through puberty. Following puberty, we continue to build bone mineral density but just a gradually slower rate. Diet and activity play a role as well, as your diet is important in making sure your body is getting the proper nutrients needed to help build your bone strength. While activity is important as the load we put through our body and bones helps tell the body that more bone strength is required to keep up with our activities. Unfortunately for females, going through menopause is a big factor in how the bones maintain their strength as the hormonal changes that happen can lead to an earlier onset of osteopenia.
What can I do to help?
Since we cannot control our age and genetics, it is important to focus on the modifiable factors to help prevent the progression of decreased bone mineral density. Maintaining a healthy diet can make sure your body has the proper nutrients to fuel your daily activities and help it grow. Seeking the advice of a dietician can be useful if you’re unsure of where to start. Maintaining an active lifestyle and performing activities that involve weight bearing (walking), body weight, or increased loads to help the bones maintain their strength. Seeking the advice of a physiotherapist can help get you started on exercises that are suited for your activity level.