A prior fracture as early as your 20’s almost doubles your risk of a secondary fracture. A fracture is any break in the continuity of the bone – whether it is cracked, splintered, or shattered and separated.
Believe it or not, a large number of people have suffered what is called a fragility fracture – any broken bone that’s caused by a fall from a standing height or less. Fragility fractures are common, affecting almost one in two older women and one in three older men. Every fragility fracture signals increased risk of future fractures as well as risk of premature mortality.
Despite the risk of future fractures, a majority of fragility fractures are either not reported or treated to prevent secondary fracture. Many people are unaware they’ve ever had a fragility fracture. If you’ve ever had a fracture or suspect you may have had a fragility fracture that was not accessed, here are ten natural things you should do to reduce your risk of another:
1. Start a natural bone health supplement program to improve your nutrition. Supplements have been shown to decrease the risk of fractures, even for people who are already taking osteoporosis medicines. In fact, physicians are increasingly encouraging osteoporosis patients to maintain a bone health program of diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle, and supplements (especially vitamin D) to prevent future fractures. A complete bone health supplement system can decrease the risk of falls with measurable difference in your bone health as fast as six weeks after adding to your diet.
2. Don’t ignore vitamin D deficiency. For older, at-risk patients, vitamin D deficiency can have a major impact on fracture. Vitamin D has been shown to improve balance, and it has huge benefits on muscle function, cognition and falling. These benefits are regardless of whether bone mineral density (BMD) increases or not.
3. Do all you can to manage your initial fracture, because fractures beget fractures. Bone healing demands additional and different nutrients than bone maintenance. During the bone healing process, the damaged bone steals nutrients from other bones (hip to hip, for example). Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin B-6, along with zinc and other nutrients are fundamental for bone healing. Even if you think the bone healing phase is over, bone healing nutrients can also be used along with a supplement system to kick-start your nutrition for bone health.
4. Make sure your supplement system includes a safe amount of boron. Boron plays a role in building strong bones and is also linked to improved memory and coordination – both of which are important in preventing falls and fractures. Studies show increased bone mineral metabolism with more than 3 mg are taken a day.
5. Understand the bone remodeling process. Your bones are in a constant state of construction. This process relies on a balance between tearing down and building bone back up. During the process to build bone, your body requires a constant influx of nutrients. The two most commonly recommended bone-building nutrients are calcium and vitamin D. On the surface this is sound advice, however, it is incomplete. Bone is made up of living cells, and like any cells, they require a wide variety of nutrients.
6. Improve bone flexibility. Calcium and vitamin D are the most supplemented nutrients, but they only target bone hardness or BMD. Bones also need to be flexible, because exercise puts repeated pressure and impact on bones and joints that can cause stress fractures. Silicon and vitamin K2 are key ingredients for improving bone flexibility.
7. Be on the lookout for ‘atypical’ fractures and ask your doctor to double check. These fractures often go undetected for weeks and even months. They are increasingly common in people after bisphosphonate use for the medical treatment of osteoporosis. Atypical fractures are often stress fractures and fractures just below the hip. These atypical fractures may develop because the bone can no longer repair microscopic damage that accumulates over a period of years. Atypical fractures are more difficult to treat than other types of broken bones and are much slower to heal.
8. Limit your calcium intake. Consuming more than 2000 mg of calcium a day from foods and supplements increases the risk of fracture because it actually makes bones brittle from so much calcium. This obviously increases the risk of a secondary fracture. Think of how easily a dried out wishbone snaps in half.
9. Skip the intensive exercise in favor of integrated lifestyle activity. This approach encourages seniors, those with osteoporosis or previous fractures to “complicate” their daily tasks in order to challenge their balance, flexibility, and muscle memory that helps protect your bones from a fall or fracture. Placing household items just out of reach, or making greater trips to complete one task are good examples.
10. Make a point to get tested. The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research urges health care providers to routinely provide osteoporosis testing and initiate treatment with medication as needed for all men and women over the age of 50 who have suffered a fracture. Secondary fractures are often caused by undiagnosed or untreated osteoporosis. Early detection can improve mortality and quality of life.