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How to Assess your Bone Health

Tujhe pata hai apun ke shareer mein 206 type ki haddiya hoti hai..” “Todte time yaad rehta hai kya!” he asked.

When Munnabhai said that dialogue to Circuit, the movie hall chorused with laughter and it still cracks our funny bones, but the truth is, most of us do take our bones for granted. Not realising that these big and small 206 calcium masses do so much for our body. They give us our shape and size, our stature, our movements without which we would be like the pulpy mass of chewing gum. Bones are in fact the reason why we can walk tall in the hierarchy of the living organisms.

Therefore, it is really important to give bones the importance that is due to them whether you are 20 or 50 and whether you are male or a female.

Bones become Brittle with Age

Bones begin to lose their density and mass as you age. Although the bone tissues continue to grow the process of loss is much more rapid than growth. That is why with age, bones start to become brittle and can break with extreme ease. This development of brittle bones is called osteoporosis and it can affect anyone at any age without any signs or symptoms. Doctors have found that family history, your lifestyle, food intake, medical conditions, medications and kind of work you do plays an important role in increasing or decreasing the strength of your bones.

Osteoporosis could lead to,

  • Easy fracture or cracking of bones.
  • Multi-bone abnormalities.
  • Deformed and distorted posture.
  • Restriction of movements
  • Problem with balance.

Therefore, after the age of 20 it is advisable to get your bone health checked too with other health checkups.

Assessing Bone Health

Know your Family History – If bone problems run in your family, there is always a probability that you too will suffer the problem of brittle bones as you age. These could include pain, restricted movements in joints especially knees and shoulders and posture difficulties. If you already know that there is a family history you can take measures to keep your bone healthy as long as possible.

Lifestyle Choices – Exercising is a great way to strengthen your bones. Strength training, weight bearing exercises like running and weight lifting help the bones become stronger. Alternatively if you have a sedentary lifestyle, your bones too cannot take much pressure and become weaker as you age. Other factors that can lead to fragile bones are,

  • Smoking and drinking in access.
  • Fewer intakes of calcium, Vitamin D and phosphorus.
  • High consumption of caffeine.
  • High consumption of soft drinks.

Health Factors – There are many health problems that can indirectly affect your bones. Some of these are,

  • Asthma
  • Eating disorders
  • gluten intolerance
  • Low body weight
  • Excessive weight loss
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • organ transplants etc.
  • Post menopausal women
  • Old age

Clinical Tests – You can go to your regular family doctor or to specialised clinics and hospitals to get your bone checked annually. The most common test done is the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry or DXA. It is an X-ray of the large bone of the hip and spine because these are two of the most vulnerable bones of the body after the wrist bones. Doctors can also advice you to take a bone mass/density scan or other tests to judge the health of your bone accurately.

Because osteoporosis is called a silent disease that comes without a warning signal, much of the trouble can be avoided if you keep checking your bone health from time to time. Food with ample calcium and other nutrients and regular exercise are also important to keep the bones fit even as you age and perhaps give Munnabhai tougher time breaking them.

Image Credit asja via cc/Flickr

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3 Responses

  1. Dear Atula Gupta,
    I have gone through your article and the details you have provided about taking care of the bones. But there was an American and I have covered his problems in an article, “An American finds cure for chronic back pain(problem related to bones) in India, published on 23rd October. When you find time, please go through it.

    Wish you a happy Diwali in the meantime.

  2. hey atula, this is a very nice article that you’ve chosen to write. I would be more than happy to see if u can include any more points w.r.t women’s health in this issue. they are the bigger percentage of victims. May b a bit of preventive and early self- diagnostic procedures or warnings signs can help readers better.

    • Thanks for your comment Padmini. I will surely include more points focussed on women and osteoporosis.