Bone and Joint Problems
Bones support your body’s structure and they protect your organs.
Strong bones are essential for your long term health and wellbeing. Sadly many people have had their lives cut short because of bone fractures. A fall can not only be painful and debilitating, but further complications can be extremely serious
You therefore owe it to yourself to be aware of the importance of building strong bones as early as possible in life and maintaining a regime throughout life that will help keep them that way.
Time taken now to take care of your skeletal system will help you maintain an active, independent life for the years to come.
Osteoporosis is the most common disorder of the skeletal system resulting from a reduction in bone density and flexibility resulting in fragility joint pain and a high risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition older women worry about the most as it is the number 1 bone disorder in post-menopausal women. However, whilst osteoporosis is often only thought of as an older person’s disorder, especially of post-menopausal women, it must be emphasized that it can strike at any age, in men as well as women.
Every 3 minutes someone in the UK has a fracture due to osteoporosis 1 in 2 women and 1 in 8 men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Therefore this section of Xtend-Life's Health Concerns mainly focuses on this issue.
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The causes of bone density loss are many and varied. Some of the key ones are as follows:
- Medications (e.g. Prednisone, Phenytoin, Thyroxine, Heparin).
- High alcohol intake
- Low Vitamin D due to inadequate sun exposure
- Physical inactivity
- Early menopause
- Endocrine diseases
- Rheumatic disease
It is important to be aware that it is not just a lack of calcium intake in your diet that can cause a loss of bone density. You can have adequate intake but still have a problem because it is not absorbed by your bones.
A general nutritional deficiency can lead to a leaching of calcium from your bones because the calcium is needed to help correct other imbalances.
In addition, other issues such as high homocysteine can inhibit the formation of new bone and prevent the absorption of calcium.
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A bone mineral density (BMD) test is a measure of tissue in your bones. It helps your practitioner to estimate your bone strength.
BMD is commonly used to help diagnose osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women where BMD tends to fall with age and their decrease in estrogen.
But be warned...
Sometimes readings from a bone density scan can be quite inaccurate and can vary between machines. It is therefore a good policy to have follow up readings done by the same machine.
Don't panic if your levels are lower than the 'base line'. These are generally for a healthy 26 year old woman. It is natural to have lower levels as you age and unless they are abnormally low for your age there may be nothing to be concerned about.
Also, keep in mind that it is not only bone density that helps keep your bones strong and protects you from joint pain and fractures. It is also the flexibility of the bones. They must be able to 'bend' without fracturing.
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By far the most common conventional treatment for bone density loss is the drug called Fosamax produced by Merck Pharmaceuticals.
Fosamax is a class of drugs known as bisphosophonates. Their original use was for corrosion prevention, soaps and fertilizers as well as being used in the textile and oil industries. It was only discovered that bisphosphonates inhibit bone loss in the late 1960’s. Fosamax was approved by the US FDA for use in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in 1995.
Whereas Fosamax helps prevent a loss of bone density its very action also inhibits the development and growth of new bone. The growth of new bone is as important if not more so than the shedding of old bone which is a natural part of maintaining strong and flexible bones.
Some scientist believe that the widespread use of Fosamax is producing a generation of women who may have denser bones but are very brittle and could make them even more prone to fractures. Time will tell. For now Merck are promoting only the benefits...which is to be expected from the same company that brought Vioxx to the consumer.
If you are on Fosamax or considering it, you may be advised to research it further. A good starting point could be a forum of users of Fosamax which you can access by clicking here.
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The most important truth to keep in mind when considering options to improve the density of your bones is that just taking extra calcium on its own is NOT the answer.
If you do not address all the other issues which contribute to weakened bones, taking the extra calcium may do you more harm than good.
If you have general nutrient deficiencies, your body will not only not absorb the additional calcium but will continue to pull calcium from your bones to distribute to other organs and cells.
For example, you may have high homocysteine which causes inflammation and bone loss. Calcium alone will not fix that. For example, you may be deficient in Vitamin D, or Boron, or Strontium, or Vitamin K2. Without any of these key ingredients your body will not absorb any extra calcium you give it.
There are three ways to address bone density loss, and/or brittle bones. These are all natural and are really the only solutions. No drug can really provide the solution.
- Carefully review your diet. Ensure that it is balanced and contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Also your diet should be, as much as possible, free from processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
- Exercise your bones. Just going for a walk, although good, is not enough. You must give your bones some resistant exercise...that means weights! No matter what your age is your bones will respond. There is ample evidence that this works for everyone...even if you are 90 years old. It is never too late to start.
- Top up your diet with good joint supplements. There are some recommendations in the next section.
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