I have a strong family history of osteoporosis. My grandmother's hip shattered, my uncle's hip shattered (yes men get it too), and my mother who has lost almost 5 inches in height has see through bones. I also have other risk factors. I am a Caucasian woman, very fair skinned, and have a small frame. I have avoided other risk factors though. I have never been a smoker or heavy drinker. In the past I have been guilty of not getting enough exercise, but I am now on a walking program.
Last month when I visited the PA in my doctor's office I asked about having a bone density test done. Have you never had one, she asked. Ummmm, no. Apparently the recommendation is that a woman who has risk factors should have one every two years after menopause. I guess I was just a little behind on my screenings. So a test was scheduled for the next week. My doctor only screens the spine and hips and the test was simple, quick, and painless.
When I finally got my results last week I found out I have mild osteopenia in my spine, which is mild thinning of the bone mass, but not severe enough to be considered osteoporosis. WebMD says having osteopenia means " there is a greater risk, as time passes, you may develop bone density that is very low compared to normal, known as osteoporosis". All people begin to lose bone mass beginning at age 30, but how dense your bone mass is to begin with may determine how fast you lose it.
I also found that I have borderline osteoporosis in one of my hips. Uh oh. As there are no symptoms of thinning bones, I wouldn't have known I had this without the scan, and as our bones thin our risk of fractures goes up.
My next step was to discuss how I wanted to treat my thinning bones. Because I already have bones that have started to lose mass I chose to take a once weekly pill that helps to ward off further bone loss and may even restore some of what I have already lost. I don't take any prescription drugs lightly. I always prefer to try to treat things naturally as much as possible, but this is one thing I don't want to play around with. A shattered hip is not fun.
It is never too early to start taking care of your bones. Even if you are not at an age yet where you may be experiencing bone thinning you should be making sure you are exercising, getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, eating foods rich in magnesium, avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol, and if you are a smoker, please consider getting help to stop.
My mom is 91, her brother is 95, and I had three grandparents who lived into their 90's. I hope I have inherited their longevity genes, and if so I want to keep myself feeling the best that I can. Working on keeping my bones healthy is one way I can do that.
Do you know your risk for getting osteoporosis? What are you doing for your bones?