When you think of osteoporosis, you probably think of older adults as it relates to one of the many health issues they or their friends may have. If you’re not familiar with it, osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones begin to lose density. As the bones begin to thin out, they become porous, leaving them more prone to fractures and broken bones.
The surprising thing about osteoporosis, however, is that it can begin to affect people as young as 50. Women tend to be affected more often and earlier than men, starting around the time of menopause. Additional risks include hereditary factors, low body weight, smoking, and alcohol abuse.
Because each foot has 26 bones, it’s highly at risk of being affected by osteoporosis. That’s why, for some, unexplained foot fractures can be the first indication you’re your body is battling osteoporosis. Even a normal activity such as walking or taking the stairs can lead to a painful fracture as your feet carry your entire body weight.
Because your bones are less able to prevent bone density loss and rebuild bone on their own as you get older, preventing and delaying bone thinning is very important to start early on. The two important factors to preventing and postponing bone density loss include regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Weight-bearing exercises, in particular, help the bones to become stronger and denser, while all exercises are helpful for maintaining strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination to prevent injuries and falls.
Bones also need a lot of calcium for building and vitamin D helps with absorption. Be sure to get adequate intake of dairy or dark leafy greens, as well as vitamin D-enriched foods or supplements. Of course, you could also get your daily dose of vitamin D by going outside and absorbing sunlight as well.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, you should take precautions to protect your feet. Stability and cushioning are important to prevent painful fractures, which can happen even without traumatic injury. Strong feet can also help with preventing trips or falls, that can lead to broken legs or bones, which can be debilitating for older adults.
There are many medications available to treat osteoporosis. Most medications work by slowing down bone breakdown. Some medications may even slow down the breakdown and even rebuild bone. Your doctor can find the right match for you depending on your circumstances. For those with very low-density bones or broken bones, you may need surgery for a bone or joint replacement.
In the case of osteoporosis in your feet, we can help! For an evaluation to determine the best ways to protect your feet, make an appointment with us at The Podiatry Group. Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof can perform a thorough assessment at our Jonesboro, AR office to treat your feet and ankles and keep them safe and healthy.