How to Keep Your Bones Strong and Prevent Fractures

How to Keep Your Bones Strong and Prevent Fractures

THURSDAY, Sept. 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) — If you’re a young adult, start thinking about your bone health, an expert advises.

Most people reach peak bone mass — the strongest bones they’ll ever have — between 25 and 30 years of age, according to Dr. Philip Bosha, a physician with Penn State Sports Medicine in State College, Pa.

“To some extent, genetics determines the peak, but lifestyle influences, such as diet and exercise, are also factors,” Bosha said in a Penn State news release.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, bone mass starts to slowly decrease after age 40. Taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D a day can help maintain your bones. You should also do weight-bearing exercises such as running and brisk walking, as well as resistance training to maintain bone and muscle strength.

After age 50, the daily recommended calcium intake for men remains 1,000 milligrams per day, but rises to 1,200 milligrams for women, including those who are entering or have gone through menopause.

Declining estrogen levels due to menopause can lead to rapid bone loss. All women 65 and older — and those between 60 and 64 who have an increased risk of fractures — should get a bone density study, according to Bosha.

“If the bone density study shows osteoporosis, it may be reasonable to start taking a medication called a bisphosphonate, which you can get in a variety of forms,” he said. “Some are pills taken on a weekly or monthly basis and other varieties can be taken intravenously.”

Other medications to improve bone density include calcitonin, which can be used as a nasal spray; parathyroid hormone, which is taken by injection; and medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators.

Bosha said men and women who are 70 and older should take 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day and 800 IU of vitamin D. At this age, men become far more likely to have lower bone density, increasing their risk of fractures. Some men should consider a bone density study, Bosha said.

“For people of this age, avoiding falls is crucial,” he said. “Maintaining balance and muscle strength through exercise and maintaining strong bones through adequate calcium and vitamin D intake can help decrease the risk of severe fractures from falls.”

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on bone health.

SOURCE: Pennsylvania State University, news release, Aug. 16, 2019

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Health Tip: Cast Care

Health Tip: Cast Care

(HealthDay News) — Broken bones and injured tendons or ligaments can cause significant pain. Casts and splints are designed to help relieve this pain by limiting movement, says the American Academy of Family Physicians.

To care for your cast properly, the AAFP offers these suggestions:

  • Cover your cast with a plastic bag when bathing and showering.
  • Ask your doctor for safe methods to relieve any itchy skin.
  • Keep the area around the edge of your cast clean and moisturized.
  • Wiggle your fingers or toes to help with circulation.
  • Apply a covered ice pack for 15 to 30 minutes over a cast or splint.
  • Ask your doctor whether you can take over-the-counter pain medicine.
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Health Tip: Living With a Herniated Disc

Health Tip: Living With a Herniated Disc

(HealthDay News) — A herniated disc is a spinal injury that can be caused by excessive strain, says the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Symptoms of a herniated disc can range from a soft back ache to extreme pain or numbness.

After diagnosis, doctors usually recommend that patients maintain a low, painless activity level for a few days or weeks.

For mild-to-moderate pain, patients can use anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Physical therapy may entail ice and heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation and stretching exercises.

For a herniated diss that causes severe pain, a doctor may recommend surgery.

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Health Tip: Lifting Heavy Things

Health Tip: Lifting Heavy Things

(HealthDay News) — Lifting heavy things is a leading cause of workplace injury, says the University of North Carolina.

People who practice smart lifting techniques are less likely to suffer muscle sprains, pulls and injuries caused by heavy lifting.

To properly lift a heavy item, the school recommends:

  • Prepare for the load. Think about if you are suited for the job.
  • Get as close to the load as possible.
  • Keep your back straight and bend at the knees.
  • Get a good handhold, and do not twist while lifting.
  • While carrying, move your feet to turn.
  • To put the load down, bend at the knees.
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Backpacks Shouldn’t Be a Back-to-School Burden on Health

Backpacks Shouldn’t Be a Back-to-School Burden on Health

SATURDAY, Aug. 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Books, tablets, lunch: Stuff can really start to weigh heavily in your kid’s school backpack.

And so experts at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) are offering tips on backpack safety to parents as a new school year begins.

That’s because heavy and improperly worn backpacks can trigger back, neck and shoulder-related pain in children, the group says. In fact, in 2018, almost 51,000 people were seen for backpack-related injuries at emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Back pain due to improperly wearing and overloading a backpack is a common symptom,” AAOS spokesperson Dr. Afshin Razi, an orthopedic spine surgeon, said in an academy news release. “To limit injuries or back pain, encourage your children to limit the load and utilize both padded straps for proper posture and weight distribution.”

Ideally, healthy children with a normal body weight should not carry more than 10%-20% of their body weight in a backpack.

Always have kids use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack, so that the weight is distributed more evenly across the back. Tighten backpack straps to keep the load closer to the back, as well. The bottom of the backpack should sit at waist level, the AAOS said.

Kids should carry only items that are required for the school day, and heavier items should be packed low and towards the center of the pack.

If you see that your child is struggling to put on or remove a backpack due to weight, have them remove some books and carry them in their arms.

It might also be necessary to talk to the school about lightening the book load the students have to carry in their backpacks. Getting other parents involved in that effort could help convince schools to make changes, the AAOS said.

School lockers are a good resource, of course, so encourage kids to stop at their lockers whenever possible, to drop off or exchange heavier books.

When lifting a backpack, bend at the knees.

Back or neck issues could still arise, and parents should encourage children to alert them about any numbness, tingling or discomfort in the arms or legs, which may indicate a poor backpack fit or too much weight.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on backpack safety.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, Aug. 19, 2019

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Health Tip: Treating Short-Term Back Pain

Health Tip: Treating Short-Term Back Pain

(HealthDay News) — Back pain is one of the most common medical issues in the United States, says the National Institutes of Health.

Short-term back pain lasts no longer than six weeks, and can be uncomfortable if untreated.

To treat short-term back pain, the NIH suggests:

  • Use hot or cold packs to soothe a sore, stiff back.
  • Try extension or aerobic exercises. But check with a doctor first.
  • Incorporate stretching into your daily routine.
  • Include calcium and vitamin D in your diet, to help keep your spine strong.
  • Take acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen to ease pain.
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