ou may not think about your bones much, but they are actually very important. They protect your internal organs, provide structure for your body, and allow you to move. Bones also store minerals, such as calcium, which are essential for good health.
Unfortunately, bones can be susceptible to different diseases that can cause pain, deformity, and even death. Some of these diseases are preventable, while others are not. Here is a look at some of the most common bone diseases and what you can do to protect your bones from them.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. It is most common in older women, but it can affect anyone. Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because there are usually no symptoms until a bone fractures.
There are several things you can do to lower your risk of osteoporosis, including getting enough calcium and vitamin D, exercising regularly, and not smoking. If you are at high risk for the disease, your doctor may also recommend medications to help prevent it.
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Osteomyelitis can occur in any bone in the body, but it is most common in the long bones of the arms and legs. Symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area.
Osteomyelitis is usually treated with antibiotics. Surgery may also be necessary to remove any dead or infected tissue. In some cases, amputation may be necessary to prevent the infection from spreading.
Bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the cells of the bone. It can occur in any bone in the body, but it is most common in the long bones of the arms and legs. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and fatigue. Bone cancer is usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
What are the major ways to improve bone health?
There are many ways to improve bone health, but some are more effective than others. Here are a few of the major ways to improve bone health:
1. Eat a healthy diet.
A healthy diet is important for overall health, including bone health. Be sure to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and dark leafy greens. Other foods that are good for bone health include those high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish and eggs, as well as those high in magnesium, such as nuts and seeds.
2. Get enough exercise.
Exercise is important for overall health, including bone health. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, and jumping, help to keep bones strong. Strength-training exercises also help to improve bone density.
3. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can both lead to bone loss. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health, including your bone health. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
4. Get enough calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. Be sure to get enough of both by including calcium-rich foods in your diet and getting regular sun exposure (or taking a vitamin D supplement).
5. Consider medication if you’re at high risk for osteoporosis.
If you’re at high risk for osteoporosis (a condition characterized by low bone density and an increased risk of fractures), your doctor may prescribe medication to help improve your bone health.
What can you do to protect your bones?
There are many things you can do to protect your bones. Some are simple, like getting enough calcium and vitamin D and exercising regularly. Others are more complicated, like avoiding smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Calcium is the main mineral in bones. It’s important to get enough calcium from food or supplements to keep your bones strong. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, food, or supplements.
Exercise helps keep bones strong. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, helps because it makes your bones work against gravity. This helps them stay strong. Muscle-strengthening exercise also helps because it increases bone density.
Smoking and drinking too much alcohol can weaken bones and make them more likely to break. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your bones (and your overall health). If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than two drinks a day.
Some medications can also affect bone health. If you take steroids or have had an organ transplant, talk to your doctor about ways to protect your bones.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break. It’s often called the “silent disease” because there are usually no symptoms until a bone is broken. Osteoporosis is more common in women than men and becomes more likely as we age. But it can be prevented and treated.
If you’re at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend a bone density test. This test uses X-rays to measure how dense (strong) your bones are. The test is painless and takes only a few minutes.
Your doctor may also recommend medications to help prevent or treat osteoporosis. These include bisphosphonates, hormone therapy, and denosumab (Prolia®).