Imagine standing up to go into the kitchen and breaking your hip. Or reaching down to pick up a magazine and cracking a bone in your wrist.
For the more than 44 million women and men over age 50 who are affected by osteoporosis, the risk of such injuries is an everyday reality. During May, which is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, Wellmont Health System is encouraging area residents to talk with their doctors about osteoporosis, its prevention and risks.
Scheduling a bone density test is a simple, painless way to measure bone health. Bone density tests are available at all Wellmont hospitals.
“A bone density test is non-invasive, and people say it’s the easiest test they’ve had,” said Mandy Armstrong, a radiologic technologist at the Holston Valley Outpatient Center in Kingsport. “Patients don’t even have to remove their clothing for it, and it only takes 15 minutes.
“The machine stores a person’s information and does a comparison rate after each visit. It also compares the patient’s bone density to that of others of the same age, weight, height and sex.”
Building strong bones is the best defense against osteoporosis. Exercising regularly and eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D are important ways to promote bone health.
Although there are treatments for osteoporosis, there is no cure. Fortunately, the condition is largely preventable in most people, Armstrong said.
“Some bone loss is common as we age,” she said. “The good news is that there are treatments that can rebuild bone. Patients can take supplements, do weight-bearing exercises like walking, do weight training or take medication.
“Osteoporosis can often be prevented. It’s important to start thinking about it earlier in life and catch it before it’s too late.”