Pooch Peril: More Elderly Are Fracturing Bones While Dog Walking

Pooch Peril: More Elderly Are Fracturing Bones While Dog Walking

WEDNESDAY, March 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Walking the dog can be great exercise for seniors, but there could be one downside: bone fractures.

Fractures suffered by elderly Americans while walking their dogs have more than doubled in recent years, new research shows.

Still, taking your dog for a walk can also bring big health rewards, one joint specialist said.

“Pets can provide companionship for older adults, and the physical exercise from regularly walking a dog may improve other aspects of physical and psychological health,” said Dr. Matthew Hepinstall, who wasn’t involved in the new study.

“So, the risks of walking a dog should be balanced against potential benefits,” said Hepinstall, who helps direct joint surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

The new research was led by Kevin Pirruccio, a second-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. His team tracked national data and found that among people aged 65 and older, fractures associated with walking leashed dogs rose from about 1,700 cases in 2004 to almost 4,400 cases in 2017 — a 163 percent rise.

More than three-quarters of the fractures occurred in women, with hip and arm fractures being the most common. About half of all fractures occurred in the upper body, with fractures of the wrist, upper arm, finger and shoulder leading the way.

The most common type of fracture was a broken hip (17 percent). That’s cause for concern, Pirruccio’s team said, because the death rate linked to hip fractures in people older than 65 is close to 30 percent.

The researchers added that the study only involved data on fractures treated at emergency departments. The actual number of dog walking-related injuries among seniors might even be higher if injuries not typically seen in a hospital — for example, tendon or muscle tears — were factored in.

Why the rising rates of fractures tied to dog walking? The study authors theorized that increased pet ownership and a greater emphasis on physical activity for older adults may be driving the trend.

In a university news release, Pirruccio stressed that walking your pooch each day “has repeatedly demonstrated social, emotional and physical health benefits.” It’s also “a popular and frequently recommended activity for many older Americans seeking new ways to stay active,” he said.

On the other hand, “patients’ risks for falls must be factored into lifestyle recommendations in an effort to minimize such injuries,” Pirruccio said.

Hepinstall agreed.

“The take-home message for older adults and their families is that, when choosing to care for a pet, be sure to consider the strength and coordination of the older adult, and the size and expected behavior of the pet selected,” he advised.

Pet ownership and care may need to be re-assessed with age, Hepinstall added.

“When the mobility of older adults changes, they should be encouraged to re-evaluate their ongoing ability to care for any pets,” he said. “This will help ensure that the health and other needs of the adult and of the pet can be properly managed.”

The study was published March 6 in JAMA Surgery.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases offers advice on preventing falls and fractures.

SOURCES: Matthew Hepinstall, M.D., associate director, joint preservation & reconstruction, department of orthopaedic surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; University of Pennsylvania, news release, March 6, 2019

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Health Tip: Preventing Carpal Tunnel

Health Tip: Preventing Carpal Tunnel

(HealthDay News) — Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when pressure is placed on a nerve stretching from the arm to the hand.

Often, this is due to stress on the hands and wrists. Adjusting your daily routine can help prevent CTS.

NYU Langone Health offers these suggestions:

Minimize repetitive hand movements.

Keep wrists straight.

Alternate between activities or tasks.

Avoid holding an object the same way for long periods.

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Walking, Not Riding, Boosts Health in Golfers With Knee Woes

Walking, Not Riding, Boosts Health in Golfers With Knee Woes

TUESDAY, Feb. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Walking the golf course instead of riding in a cart offers heart health benefits that may outweigh potential joint harm for golfers with knee osteoarthritis, a new small study reports.

The study included 10 golfers with knee osteoarthritis who played two 18-hole rounds of golf. They walked the course in one round and used a golf cart in the other round.

Walking did increase the golfers’ knee inflammation, but they also got significant cardiovascular benefits, according to the researchers.

“The impetus for the study stemmed from the fact that the majority of rounds of golf in the United States are now played with a golf cart, which has been suggested to affect the health benefits of the sport. We wanted to measure the effect of this in individuals with knee osteoarthritis,” said study co-author Dr. Prakash Jayabalan. He is a clinician-scientist in sports medicine at AbilityLab, in Chicago.

More than 17 million people play golf in the United States each year. In nearly 70 percent of the rounds, golfers ride in motorized carts to travel between holes. Many golfers with knee arthritis may avoid walking because they think doing so may worsen their joint pain and cartilage degradation.

Osteoarthritis is often described as being caused by wear-and-tear on the joints, and it is a leading cause of disability for Americans aged 50 and older.

However, even though walking may increase inflammation in golfers with knee osteoarthritis, the researchers said there is evidence of cartilage remodeling effects in knees whether golfers walk or ride in a cart.

Golfers should consider their individual symptoms and follow their doctor’s advice, the study authors said in a news release from the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

“Walking exercise is commonly advocated for individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Our study suggests that golf may be a good prescription of walking exercise, particularly if they walk the course, as they get more health benefits,” said Jayabalan, who is also an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The study included people who played golf regularly, so Jayabalan said the next step would be to evaluate golf as an exercise intervention for occasional golfers.

The report was presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists, in Puerto Rico. The research should be considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on osteoarthritis.

SOURCE: Association of Academic Physiatrists, news release, Feb. 21, 2019

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Osteoporosis Often Missed in Elderly Men

Osteoporosis Often Missed in Elderly Men

FRIDAY, Feb. 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Osteoporosis is typically thought of as a woman’s disease, but elderly men are also prone to bone loss — even though they often aren’t treated for it, a new study finds.

Among men and women aged 80 and older, women were three times more likely to get osteoporosis treatment, researchers reported.

Ten million Americans have osteoporosis, according to the study. Each year, the disease causes 2 million fractures, costing $19 million. As the population ages, this could rise to 3 million fractures at a cost of $25 million by 2025.

Osteoporosis is a serious condition for men, too, the researchers added. After breaking a hip, the risk of illness and death is greater among men than women, they noted.

For the study, researchers led by Dr. Radhika Rao Narla, from the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle, compared screening and treatment for osteoporosis among more than 13,700 men and women aged 70 and older.

Managing the disease included scans of bone mineral density, measuring levels of vitamin D, and treatment with vitamin D, calcium supplements and bisphosphonates (some brand names include Boniva, Actonel and Fosamax).

The investigators looked at more than 11,600 men and 460 women where age alone was a risk factor for hip fracture, and another group of more than 1,600 men at risk for osteoporosis due to previous fracture or treatment that weakened bones.

About 50 percent of the men aged 75 to 79 had a risk of breaking a hip that qualified them for osteoporosis treatment, as did 88 percent of the men aged 80 and older.

The researchers found that men were much less likely than women to be tested and treated for osteoporosis, especially those aged 80 and older.

Looking at age alone, the researchers found that more women than men had their bone density measured (63 percent versus 12 percent) and had their vitamin D levels measured (39 percent versus 18 percent).

Women were more than three times as likely to be given calcium and vitamin D supplements (63 percent versus 20 percent) and to be treated with bisphosphonates (44 percent versus 5 percent), the researchers found.

Among men aged 80 and older, only 10 to 13 percent had bone density measured and fewer than 1 in 10 were treated with bisphosphonates.

Men at higher risk for hip fractures or those who had already suffered from a broken hip were often overlooked for diagnosis and treatment, the researchers noted.

Narla and her team could not say why men are not assessed for osteoporosis. It might be a lack of awareness of screening guidelines or doctors are busy dealing with other medical problems, they said.

These findings suggest that guidelines are “inadequate in effectively identifying older men who might benefit from evaluation for osteoporosis and fracture prevention treatment,” the researchers said.

The report was published online Feb. 14 in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

“We believe that there is a need for developing strategies to improve the evaluation and management for all older men, particularly among elderly men with a very high risk of fracture,” Narla’s group said in a journal news release.

More information

The National Osteoporosis Foundation offers more on osteoporosis.

SOURCE: Journal of Investigative Medicine, news release, Feb. 14, 2019

Health Tip: What to Eat if You Have Arthritis

Health Tip: What to Eat if You Have Arthritis

f you have arthritis, there are foods that may help you feel better.

A diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals, and includes fruits, lean proteins, fish, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils may be most beneficial, the foundation says.

But it cautions against changing too much, too soon. Gradually swap out ingredients at each meal, and you may feel a big difference in how you feel and how well you can manage your pain and discomfort, the foundation adds.

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Healthful Diet = Healthy Bones

Healthful Diet = Healthy Bones

MONDAY, Nov. 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Trying to eat a healthier diet? Don’t forget that certain foods can help protect your bones, a nutrition expert says.

“Bone disease is often preventable by getting enough calcium and vitamin D into your diet,” said Kathryn Weatherford, a registered dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“By eating the right combination of calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods, we can boost our immune system and protect our bones,” she said. “Many foods are now fortified in calcium and vitamin D, making it easier to meet our daily recommended intake.”

Start your day with a calcium-fortified cereal that is high in fiber (more than 3 grams) and low in sugar. Whole grain cereal with a cup of milk adds up to 600 milligrams (mg) of calcium.

Fatty fish is also an excellent source of vitamin D. A 3-ounce portion of wild salmon provides more than 100 percent of daily value of vitamin D, according to Weatherford.

Eat a variety of dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard and bok choy, she added.

An 8-ounce serving of yogurt provides 400 mg of calcium. Choose non-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt, which provides additional protein.

Another suggestion is milk alternatives. Whether it is almond, soy, cashew or hemp milk, almost all milk alternatives are fortified with both vitamin D and calcium. For example, almond milk provides up to 45 percent of daily value of calcium and 25 percent of daily value of vitamin D, Weatherford said.

Your body also produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine a day can produce enough vitamin D.

It’s important to monitor how much calcium and vitamin D you consume each day. If you suspect you’re not getting enough, talk to your doctor or dietitian, Weatherford suggested.

“It’s good to know if you’re vitamin D-deficient so you can take steps to fix the problem and keep building strong bones,” Weatherford said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on vitamin D.

SOURCE: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, news release, Nov. 6, 2018

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