Fall Prevention and Osteoporosis (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Improving Balance, Reducing the Impact of a Fall, and Decreasing Bone Weakness
A person can evaluate balance by looking in a mirror. The body may lean or sway back and forth or side to side while walking or standing still. This may be an indication of the ability to balance because lots of body sway often indicates decreased ability to balance, making a person more likely to fall.
Practicing balancing exercises every day is helpful. Elderly people or those with medical problems should check with their doctor before performing exercises to help with balance.
Reducing the impact of a fall
Remember that the force of a fall (how hard a person lands) is a significant factor in whether a person will have a broken bone or not. Take the following steps to lessen the chances of breaking a bone if a fall occurs.
Determining the risk
Early detection of low bone mass (osteopenia) or osteoporosis is the most important step to protect against broken bones from falls. If a person has osteopenia or osteoporosis, he or she can take action to stop the progression of bone loss. Remember effective treatment or prevention cannot take place if the person does not know he or she has or is at risk for osteoporosis.
Certain factors, such as female sex, family history of osteoporosis, use of medicines that increase bone loss, small body size, and an inactive lifestyle, are associated with increased risk of developing osteoporosis (see Prevention of Osteoporosis and Bone Mineral Density Tests for details on risk factors).
If any of these risk factors or other signs of osteoporosis are present, a doctor may recommend that the bone mass is measured. Even though risk factors can indicate the possibility of low bone density, only a bone mineral density (BMD) test can be used to measure current bone density, diagnose osteoporosis, and determine the risk of fracture. Bone mineral density tests measure the solidness and mass (bone density) in the spine, wrist, and/or hip, which are the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis. Other tests measure bone density in the heel or hand. These tests are performed like X-ray films. They are painless, noninvasive, and safe (see Bone Mineral Density Tests for more information).
Doctors examine bone mineral density test results to do the following:
Decreasing bone weakness
Preserve existing bone mass and density (strength) to decrease the risk of broken bones and disability from falling. The many treatments available today have been shown to work quickly (within one year), and they reduce the risk of fracture by up to 50%. Protect the health of bones by following osteoporosis treatment and prevention strategies (see Treatment of Osteoporosis and Prevention of Osteoporosis).
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