How to Maintain Strong and Healthy Bones
Osteoporosis is a systemic bone metabolic disease in which bone loss occurs, bone structures are damaged, and bone fragility increases, all which increase the likelihood of bone fractures.
People’s skeletons are constantly losing old bone cells and forming new ones throughout their lifetime. During childhood and teenage years, new bone tissue is formed faster than old bone is lost. When you begin to lose more bone tissue than you can build, a condition known as osteopenia develops and eventually may lead to osteoporosis , with symptoms of fatigue, back pain, leg pain, knee instability, spinal deformity, and even bone fractures. People who are already suffering from diseases such as diabetes, kidney problems, chronic enteritis and hyperthyroidism are also more prone to osteoporosis. Certain people with osteoporosis may suffer from spinal compression fractures, resulting in loss of height with a stooped back known as a ‘dowager’s hump.’
What can cause osteoporosis?
- Insufficient physical activity, prolonged bed rest
- Low sun exposure, lack of calcium or Vitamin D, high sodium diet
- Smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine intake
- People after stomach removal surgery or extremely skinny person
Who should be alert to possible osteoporosis?
Women in and after pregnancy
When the fetus is growing in the mother’s body, the nutrients from the mother will be absorbed by the baby, including elements such as calcium, which directly supports the bone development of the fetus itself. The mother usually loses about 10% of their total bone tissue after a baby is born. The more pregnancies, the more serious the loss of bone tissue, and if mothers don't pay attention to their nutrient intake and calcium supplements, they will often get osteopenia and then osteoporosis. This can also occur due to breastfeeding. Some women find that after breastfeeding, their teeth are loose and their back is sore.
Women in menopause
Before menopause, the female body uses estrogen to protect the bones. Within five to seven years after menopause, estrogen production will fall drastically, leading to bone loss in women of up to 20% and, as a result, an increase in the risk of fractures.
However, in the early stages of the condition, it’s difficult to tell that anything is wrong. This is due to the fact that, though weakened bones are more prone to fractures, it tends not to show any obvious signs or symptoms for a long time. Therefore, once a year, a BMD (bone mineral density) check-up is recommended.
People 60 and above
The most common and serious consequences of senile osteoporosis are fractures. In order to prevent osteoporosis fractures, the first step is to prevent falling, along with maintaining bone mass, and lastly to strengthen estrogen production. The most common fractures in the elderly are in the vertebrae, wrist, and hip. After experiencing the fracture, if the person is bed bound for a month, they will lose 10% of their bone mass. This can also lead to muscle atrophy, a condition in which a person’s muscles shrink and which makes them weak, due to a lack of exercise and movement.
Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment
Supplements and activities
Prevention is better than attempting to cure, and nowhere else is this truer than with osteoporosis.
In order to prevent osteoporosis, one needs to watch their intake of calcium. Those from ages 20-50 need about 800mg of calcium a day. This daily amount increases to 1000-1,200mg when women hit menopause and when men turn 70. I also highly recommend Vitamin D supplements, which promote calcium absorption with enough sun exposure. Although exercising helps by making your bones ‘hungry’ for calcium and facilitates better absorption, keep in mind that not all physical activities are good for people with weakened bones. Activities such as Taiji, slow walking, jogging and yoga are recommended.
How can TCM help?
As for TCM treatments, the focus should be on herbal medication and acupuncture. People with weakened bones can be helped by boosting their blood circulation and spleen and kidney energy. Not only will this strengthen the bones and improve calcium absorption by regulating the marrow, muscles, and blood, it will even go a step further by improving the flow of Qi throughout the entire body. We have treated plenty of osteoporosis cases in our clinic with success.
Source: The Breaking Point in NATURA magazine