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Facts about osteoporosis

The silent crippler

Osteoporosis affects more than 25 million Americans. This silent disease makes the bones thin and brittle.

Osteoporosis often leads to fractures of the spine called compression fractures. Compression fractures secondary to osteoporosis account for 750,000 cases each year. Compression fractures can cause back pain as well as postural changes. These changes may put stress on ligaments and muscles and may have a direct effect on mobility and activities of daily living.

Knowing your risk

There are several factors that affect your risk of developing osteoporosis. Some of these can be changed and others cannot.

Gender, race, heredity, skeletal frame, age, medical conditions and the use of particular drugs can all increase your risk, but these factors cannot be changed.

However, nutrition, inactive lifestyle, use of caffeine and alcohol and smoking are risk factors that can be changed to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Building stronger bones

Exercise enhances bone mass and decreases pain, as well as decreasing the risk of future fractures. Most importantly, stress applied to bone leads to an increased deposition of calcium at the location where stress is applied. Lost mineral is not easily recovered and normal everyday activity is not enough to build bone. Improving bone mass requires exercise.