I've already had a bone fracture - How can I prevent future fractures?

Osteopororis is a "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People typically do not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, twist or fall results in a fracture. After sustaining a fracture everything seems to take on a new perspective. "Why me? I won't be able to do anything now without breaking something. Nobody seems to understand the pain and debility that my fracture causes me." Antoher concern is that once having had a fracture, the risk doubles for having a future fracture. Below are some guidelines on how you can take control and prevent the next fracture:

The first step is realizing that the bone is more fragile now. Second, your health care providers have ways to greatly reduce fractures. It is never too late. Unfortunately, only 5% of people with fractures get treatment to reduce future fractures. Part of the work-up involves talking with your physician about risk factors such as intake of calcium, sunlight exposure, exercise, smoking, age of the change of life (women and men), alcohol intake and medications. The examination looks at weight and measured height, curvature of the spine, balance, muscle strength, and general well being. Testing for the strength of the bone involves a painless x-ray call a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) or bone densitometry. Other laboratory tests may include calcium, complete blood count, and measures of bone formation and bone breakdown.

Recommendations for better bone health include a diet rich in calcium (1000-1500 mg of elemental calcium daily), with milk products being a great source. Talk to your doctor about the need for calcium supplements. The get the calcium into the blood stream, vitamin D is a vital key to open the door. Your own body with the right amount of sun exposure can make vitamin D. Sometimes vitamin D (400-800 I.U.) Can be added through a multivitamin or calcium supplements. Do not take part in life from the sidelines; get involved with activities such as: walking, strength training, dancing, Tai chi, stair climbing, light hiking, bicycling, gardening, to name a few.

Your doctor may review with you ways to avoid falls or send you for further training through a referral to physical therapy and/or exercise (particularly strength training). There are now several safe and effective treatments available by prescription to improve bone strength and reduce fractures. Talk with your doctor about the need to take medication to improve bone strength.