Osteoporosis is a disease that occurs when your body loses bone, doesn’t make enough bone, or both. This causes your bones to become weak and fracture much more easily. One in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone because of osteoporosis. (Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation)

Since you don’t feel your bones getting weak, you may not know you have osteoporosis until after you’ve broken a bone. This may be referred to as a fragility fracture—a fracture that happens with little to no trauma. It’s important that you see a doctor when you fracture or break a bone.In some cases, your doctor may order a test called a DEXA scan – a special X-ray that measures your bone density to see if you have osteoporosis. Your doctor may also order blood work to make sure there are no other reasons why you could have osteoporosis.

If osteoarthritis is found, your doctor will create a treatment plan for you. This may include physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Reducing your fall risk can help lower your chances of sustaining a fracture. Here are some ways to minimize your risk:

  • Have grab bars installed in your bathroom near the toilet and in the shower.
  • Use non-skid mats in the tub or shower.
  • Be sure all cords and wires are secure and out of the walkway by attaching to the wall or ground.
  • Remove all throw rugs.
  • Place frequently used items in easy-to-reach places to avoid bending, stooping, or reaching.
  • Make sure your home is well-lit, especially at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Make sure it is well-lit between your bedroom and bathroom.
  • Wear low heeled shoes with rubber soles for better traction.
  • Keep the outside of your home free of clutter.
  • Turn inside and outside lights on when you leave so it is well-lit when you come home.

Additionally, you may reduce your risk of osteoporosis by following these suggestions:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit alcohol to less than 2 drinks a day.
  • Get active. Participate in a daily weight-bearing exercise
  • program. Simply walking is a great exercise.
  • Limit your caffeine.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
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