Having low bone mass means the bones are weaker than expected.  Bones become weak because bone tissue is being lost faster than it is being gained.  When the low bone mass is severe or if a fracture occurs because of low bone mass, it is called Osteoporosis.

There are a number of different causes of low bone mass.  Most commonly, low bone mass is related to menopause, but it can also be related to medical conditions, genetic conditions, lifestyle, and medications.

When bones are weak, they are more likely to fracture.  When a bone is fractured as a result of low bone mass, it is called a fragility fracture.  Fragility fractures take time to heal and often require surgery. 

Fall Prevention

Many falls can be prevented.  By making some changes, you can lower your chances of falling. 

First, begin a regular exercise program.  Exercise is one of the most important ways to lower your changes of falling.  It makes you stronger and helps you feel better.  Exercises that improve balance and coordination are most helpful.  A lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling.

Second, have your health care provider, such as a Ministry Medical Group Clinician review your medications.  As you get older, the way medicines work in your body may change.

Third, have your vision checked.  By having your vision checked by a Ministry Medical Group Ophthalmologist, you can determine if you are wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition like glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision.  Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.

Last, make your home safer.  About half of all falls happen at home.  To make your home safer, follow these tips:

  • Remove things you can trip over (such as papers, books, shoes, etc.) from stairs and places you walk.
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  • Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
  • Have grab bars installed next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Improve the lighting in your home.  As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well.  Hang light-weight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
  • Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
  • Wear shoes both inside and outside the house.  Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.

Risk Factors

There are various risk factors associated with low bone mass.  Several risk factors cannot be changed such as:

  • Female Gender
  • Menopause
  • Increased Age
  • Small, Thin Frame
  • Caucasian or Asian Ethnicity
  • Family History of Osteoporosis

Several risk factors CAN be changed, such as:

  • Low Calcium Intake
  • Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Inactivity
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Drinking Alcohol Excessively
  • Anorexia Nervosa or Excessive Exercise

Other factors include:

  • Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Certain Medications

Treatment and Prevention

The risk of osteoporosis may be lessened by following these tips:

  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use
  • Avoid excessive intake of caffeine, carbonated beverages, sodium, and vitamin A
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with 3-4 servings of dairy products daily
  • If you cannot tolerate dairy products, take 500-600 mg of calcium twice a day
  • Take 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily
  • Daily cardiovascular exercise, including weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, and cross-country skiing several times per week
  • Muscle strengthening exercise, such as weightlifting or Pilates, 2-3 times per week
  • Prevent risk of falls
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