As we're entering the Winter season, snow and ice can lead to injuries. The distal radial fracture physicians at Rothman Institute would like to remind you of these important tips for protecting your bone health and preventing such injuries.
Why Do Distal Radial Fracture Physicians Care About Bone Health?
While it's true all doctors who deal with broken bones are keen to have you keep your bones healthy, skeletal wellness is of particular interest to distal radial fracture physicians. A distal radius fracture, or broken wrist, which commonly happens when someone reaches out to break a fall, is often the first sign of osteoporosis. In fact, most of these injuries are caused at least in part by bone loss. With that in mind, doctors who specialize in hand and wrist fractures have a special interest in and knowledge of general bone health.
Osteoporosis is a disorder in which bones become brittle and prone to breaking. This often happens over the course of a lifetime, as a result of too little calcium and Vitamin D intake. Our bodies store calcium in our bones, but use it in multiple other systems. Normally, a person who is taking in enough calcium and Vitamin D will be able to supply her other body systems with the calcium they need to function. If an individual is not ingesting enough calcium and Vitamin D however, her body will begin to break down the calcium stored in the bones to compensate. If this happens over a long period of time, osteoporosis can result.
What Are Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?
When evaluating a patient's risk for osteoporosis, distal radial fracture physicians look at a variety of factors. These include:
- Age - We all lose bone mass as we age. Most people's bone mass peaks between the ages of 25 and 30. After that, bone loss is inevitable, however, the amount of mass lost can be minimized in many people.
- Gender - Women have a lower overall bone density than men, and are at higher risk for osteoporosis. This is especially true for post-menopausal women, since estrogen, which helps the digestive system absorb calcium, significantly drops at menopause.
- Genetics - Those with a family history of osteoporosis are more likely to develop the disease themselves.
- Diet - If you aren't getting enough calcium or Vitamin D in your diet, and you aren't taking a supplement, your body will start taking it from your bones to compensate for the missing nutrients.
- Size - Smaller people, in particular smaller women, tend to have smaller bones and lower peak bone density. This means that smaller individuals lose a higher percentage of bone than their larger peers, even if the actual amount of loss is the same.
- Taking Certain Medications - Certain medications, including a number of steroid medications and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can damage bones as a side effect of long term use.
- Eating Disorder - Since eating disorders interfere with the overall amount of nutrients either taken into or absorbed by the body, they often results in malnutrition, including insufficient calcium and Vitamin D.
- Smoking - Studies suggest that tobacco use is a contributing factor in bone weakness.
- Excessive Use of Alcohol - Alcohol can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Those who regularly have more than two alcoholic beverages a day are at higher risk for bone loss.
- Prolonged Childhood Illness - Exercise during childhood builds bone mass. Those who are bedridden over an extended period of time during childhood often suffer complications later in life, including osteoporosis.
What Can I Do to Keep My Bones Healthy?
Bone health is important for your overall wellness. Bone loss and osteoporosis don't hurt, so you might not know you have it until you've broken a bone, such as the wrist. In order to keep your bones healthy, distal radial fracture physicians offer these tips:
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco - Substance abuse can contribute to bone loss. Avoid tobacco completely, and have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
- Exercise regularly - Exercise helps strengthen bones, and contributes to overall health.
- Eat a balanced diet - Make sure you're getting your daily recommended amount of both calcium and Vitamin D
Talk with your doctor about whether you would benefit from calcium or Vitamin D supplements.
If you're concerned that your diet is not providing sufficient nutrients, or if you have multiple risk factors for osteoporosis and are concerned about bone loss, talk to your doctor about whether adding supplements to your routine would benefit you.
What if I've Already Fractured My Wrist?
The distal radial fracture physicians at Rothman Institute are some of the best orthopaedists in the business. Our doctors can talk to you about treatment options, as well as any concerns you have about your overall bone health. For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.