At least one in five men will break a bone from osteoporosis– Osteoporosis Canada
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a silent bone disease that leads to weak bones, and an increased risk of fractures.
Our bone cells are constantly being renewed by new bone cells, which keeps our bones strong. This cycle naturally declines as we age. In osteoporosis, bones deteriorate faster than normal. When left untreated, bones can become so weak that a simple act such as reaching, bending over, or sneezing can cause a fracture.
It is more common in men over age 65 but can affect all ages. Because osteoporosis can develop over a number of years without warning signs, screening is recommended between 65 – 70, or younger.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
The first warning sign of osteoporosis is often a bone fracture. Other signs include losing height and stooping posture with lower back pain.
Typical fractures happen in the hip, spine, wrist or shoulder. Fractures are not only painful but can take weeks to months to heal, sometimes requiring surgery or ongoing physical therapy.
Common fractures from osteoporosis include:
- Fragility fractures: a fracture that occurs spontaneously from a simple activity like reaching, twisting or coughing. Or from a minor injury like a fall from standing height.
- Height loss and spine fracture: A decrease in height by 2cm from maximum height could indicate a spine fracture. These are usually painless but will show up on an x-ray.
There is no single cause of osteoporosis. A number of risk factors exist that can increase the chances of developing it, however many people only have a few of them.
Common risk factors:
- Age (over 65+ in men)
- Low calcium or vitamin D intake
- Family history of a hip fracture
- Lack of physical activity
- High alcohol consumption (3+ drinks per day)
- Low body weight or major weight loss
- Long-term use of certain medications
- Certain medical conditions associated with bone loss (i.e., diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, gastric bypass surgery, and others)
Men are less likely to be assessed for osteoporosis or to receive treatment after they break a bone– Osteoporosis Canada
Osteoporosis is a silent disease, meaning it can develop for years without symptoms. A one-time bone mineral density test (a safe, painless scan) is recommended for men between 65 – 70. If you have increased risk factors such as a family history or high alcohol intake, a scan may be considered as early as age 50.
If you are taking high-risk medications or have a condition associated with bone loss, consult your healthcare practitioner for the appropriate screening age and frequency.
Download the Men’s Health Checklist for a full list of what tests you need, and when to screen for common men’s health conditions.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a healthcare practitioner using the results of the bone mineral density test (DEXA scan), combined with health history and clinical risk factors. A fracture risk assessment will identify your risk as low, moderate or high over the next 10 years.
Regular physical activity helps slow the rate of bone loss, prevent falls and protect the spine. On a weekly basis, aim for 150 mins of heart-pumping activity and 2 strength training sessions using weights, bands or your own body weight.
Getting enough calcium, vitamin D and protein from a combination of your diet and or supplements is necessary to provide the building blocks for your bones.
Calcium-rich food examples include dairy products, fortified milk alternatives, and salmon. You can support your vitamin D intake through some foods like egg yolks and saltwater fish. Up your protein intake by incorporating plant-based sources like beans, nuts and seeds.
Long-term smoking is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Quitting smoking will help reduce your risk of many serious health conditions.
Consuming three or more alcoholic drinks per day is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Lowering your alcohol intake has many additional health benefits beyond bone health.
Get Easy Tips To Reduce Your Risk
Treatment is focused on helping prevent bones from weakening further and reducing the risk of falls and fractures.
It’s important to first identify and manage any medications or coexisting conditions that can contribute to osteoporosis.
Your healthcare practitioner may prescribe drug therapy depending on your risks and treatment needs. This can include drugs that slow down bone loss and/or build up bone density.
Drug therapy may be paired with a regular strength training routine and getting the required amount of calcium and vitamin D through diet and/or supplements.
Frequently asked questions
Is there a cure for osteoporosis?
While there is no cure for osteoporosis, a bone-healthy lifestyle and certain drug therapies can help prevent bone loss, build up bone density, and prevent or reduce the risk of fractures.
Can exercise or diet replace drug therapy?
If diagnosed with osteoporosis, typically exercise and diet changes are recommended in combination with drug therapy. Speak to your healthcare practitioner to find the right treatment plan for you.
Do I need to take a calcium supplement?
Daily calcium requirements for adults ages 19 to 50 are 1000mg and 1200mg for adults over 50. Use this calcium calculator to find out how much you are getting in your diet. If you are not able to get enough calcium through diet, talk to your healthcare practitioner about supplement options.
Do I need to take a vitamin D supplement?
Many Canadians don’t get enough sun to produce the required vitamin D. With few food sources providing vitamin D, supplementation is often recommended. Speak to your healthcare practitioner about the best supplement options for you.
What is the difference between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis?
Though the names sound similar, they are very different. Osteoarthritis is a disease that impacts joint cartilage, and osteoporosis impacts bone tissue.
Last updated: Oct 5, 2023
Disclaimer: This resource is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide diagnosis or be a substitute for professional medical advice from a healthcare practitioner. You should not use the information provided for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical or health problem, promptly consult your healthcare practitioner.