Fact or Fiction? A Look at the Common Myths of Osteoporosis

Once a woman turns 50, thoughts of osteoporosis often fill their heads. While that in itself is not a problem, the way women deal with it is. Some women will start taking medication that they do not need, while others will not seek any kind of treatment. Knowing the facts about osteoporosis can help all women get the help they need when they need it.

Myth #1: Women need a bone density test as soon as they hit menopause
One of the biggest misconceptions about osteoporosis is that women should get tested as soon as they hit menopause. Most physicians recommend that women wait until they have reached 65 years of age top have the test done. However, some exceptions do apply. Women who meet certain criteria should talk to their physician’s about getting tested sooner. For example, adult women who have recently broke a bone or women that are taking medications that increase the risk of osteoporosis, should find out if they need to be tested sooner.

Myth #2: Even if a woman is 65 if her doctor has not suggested a bone density test she does not need one
One thing that is rather shocking is that once a woman reaches 65 many of their physicians will not even suggest a bone density test. And since doctor’s are not suggesting they get one done many women feel it is not necessary, but this is far from the truth. Women who have turned 65 are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, so even if a doctor does not suggest the test women should insist on it being done.

Myth #3: Once a woman reaches menopause they can no longer build bone density
Most women have learned that their lack of bone density is due to no estrogen in the body after they reach menopause. Most women also think that once they start to lose bone density there is nothing they can do to get it back, but luckily that is not true. Tufts University conducted some research that shows women who do strength training at least twice a week on a regular basis can increase their bone density, even if they are over the age of 65. However, in order to continue these improvements the intensity of the workout must be increased as needed. Eating calcium rich foods will not increase bone density, but can help slow down the loss. Calcium supplements can also help if the 1,200 mg benchmark is not being met.

Myth #4: Women who show signs of “pre-osteoporosis” should start taking medication immediately
Osteopenia is a condition where the bone density is lower than what it is supposed to be, but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis, which is where many health care professionals get the term “pre-osteoporosis. The trouble with this diagnosis is the lack of guidelines. For example, some health care professionals feel women should be started on medication immediately, while others feel there is no need to start the medication. This is a big debate because the drugs used to treat osteoporosis can cause some pretty serious side effects, so why expose women to that before it is necessary. To help determine if medication is going to be necessary the World Health Organization created a risk assessment program that looks at a woman’s bone density along with 11 other factors to determine if medication is necessary.

Image Source: Spine Health

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