What Every Woman Should Know About Bone Health

What Every Woman Should Know About Bone Health

An estimated 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis, and around 8 million of them are women — that's 80%. Osteoporosis is characterized by chronic bone loss that leads to weak bones that fracture easily. Fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist are most common.

Regardless of age, all women should take steps to protect their bones. Roughly half of women aged 50 and over will break a bone due to osteoporosis. With the right steps and effective care, it's possible to boost your bone health and lower your fracture risk.

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, and our team at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas diagnose and treat a full spectrum of spinal conditions. While anyone can develop osteoporosis, women are more likely to develop weak bones than men. This means women must take special care throughout their lives to keep their bones strong. 

Fast bone health facts for women

Women’s bones grow until about age 18, and roughly 95% of their peak bone mass is reached by age 20. After that, small gains continue until age 30. Estrogen plays a role in keeping bones strong. It slows the rate of bone breakdown, which protects bones.

Optimal bone mineral density is most likely linked to your intakes of bone-strengthening minerals and vitamins, such as:

Getting enough of these nutrients in your diet each day helps to maintain bone density.

Why does osteoporosis occur?

Bone remodeling is the process of breaking down old bone and replacing it with new bone tissue. Throughout adolescence and young adulthood, bone remodeling occurs at a higher rate, which keeps bones strong.

The rapid decline in estrogen that happens after the age of 50 accelerates bone loss in women. 

Women can lose up to 20% of their bone within the first five to seven years of menopause.

Osteoporosis occurs when you lose too much bone, or your body fails to build enough new bone. You can think of bone like a honeycomb. In women with osteoporosis the holes in the bone are larger than in healthy bone due to low bone density. This leaves bones weak and brittle, and vulnerable to fracture. 

If you're concerned about your bone health, ask your doctor for a bone density test.

Back pain conditions that commonly affect women

Age-related changes to the spine are common after the age of 40. Women are especially vulnerable to degenerative spinal changes after menopause. The following are three common spinal conditions that women are more likely to develop.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

The sacroiliac joints connects your pelvis to the bottom of your spine. Sacroiliac joint problems are common in women and a common cause of low back pain. The sacroiliac joints are small, and women have smaller sacroiliac joints than men.

These joints act as a shock absorber and transfers weight from the upper body to hips and legs. Low bone density can weaken the sacroiliac joint or cause other changes that lead to sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Low back pain is a typical symptom. 

Arthritis of the spine

When women lose bone mineral density, components that make up the spine, such as the facet joints, can weaken. The risk of facet joint problems increases with age. Osteoarthritis of the spine is a common cause of facet joint break down, which causes bones to rub together, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced flexibility.

Spinal fracture

Women are at a higher risk of spinal fracture. Low bone density can affect your spine, making spinal bones weak and easier to fracture. If you have low bone density, you may fracture your spine performing everyday tasks, such bending, or lifting an item. 

Tips for maintaining bone health

There are things you can do at every age to keep your bones strong. The following are some steps women can take to protect their bones.

If you experience premature menopause, talk to your doctor. Once you reach ages 50 and over, you can take additional steps to keep your bones strong. 

Getting enough bone-strengthening nutrients and staying active are excellent ways to keep your bones strong as you age. 

If you’re dealing with back pain and are concerned about your bone health, visit us for a thorough evaluation. Call our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Jones. We have offices in Houston, Pearland, and Lake Jackson, Texas.

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