It’s easy to overlook the importance of bone health since it’s a part of your body you can’t see. However, your bones give your skeleton structure, hold your muscles in place, and store calcium.
To be able to do these important jobs, your bones constantly break down old tissue and replace it with new in a process known as remodeling. But, like most bodily functions, bone remodeling starts to slow down after age 30. When this occurs, you start losing more bone mass than you gain.
As bones lose mass or density, they become weaker. It can also lead to a disease known as osteoporosis — a condition that leaves you at higher risk for sudden and unexpected fractures. The problem with osteoporosis is that it often develops silently, so you have few symptoms or pain. Instead, the first sign of unhealthy bones arises with a painful fracture, often to the wrist, hip, or spine.
Other signs of osteoporosis include:
But there are more subtle things that can offer clues to your bone health earlier on.
Dr. Eric E. Johnson leads his own orthopaedic practice in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He shared these signs you should assess your bone health to avoid fractures.
Everyone breaks a nail sometimes, but if you have a frequent problem, you shouldn’t ignore it.
Studies show that your nail and bone health could have closer links than you think. Simply put, if your nails have low levels of the strengthening protein collagen, your bones likely do, too.
Do your nails seem weak or have vertical ridges? It could mean your system doesn’t have enough bone-building calcium.
We know what you’re thinking, What do gums have to do with bones? The answer is actually quite simple.
Your jawbone supports and holds her teeth in place. However, just like every other bone in your body, it can also grow weak and lose mass. When this occurs, gum tissue can start receding or detaching from your teeth.
In addition to receding gums, tooth loss can also indicate bone health issues. In fact, women with poor bone density are three times more likely to lose teeth. So, if you notice your gums receding or changes in how your dentures fit, it’s time to see an expert.
Do you have problems turning door knobs? How about pushing yourself up from a seated position? Research shows that there is a direct correlation between hand grip strength and bone density in the forearms, hip, and spine.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to build strong muscles and improve your balance. Whether you work with a personal trainer to learn how to lift weights or start practicing yoga or tai chi, adding these activities can significantly improve your physical strength, range of motion, flexibility, and reflexes — all key components for bone health.
Have you checked your resting heart rate lately? This number refers to how often your heart beats during inactivity.
Most people have resting heart rates between 60-100 beats per minute. However, studies also show that numbers 80 beats or higher put you at increased risk for fractures to the pelvis, hip, and spine. But why?
Your heart rate clearly reflects your fitness level. That means resting heart rates are often higher in those who are sedentary. Unfortunately, physical activity, especially those involving weight-bearing, like walking, is an essential part of building strong bones and a healthy skeleton.
Anyone can develop osteoporosis; however, women 50 and older are at highest risk. But that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait until problems occur.
Instead, take steps as early as possible to build and maintain strong bones by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as:
You should also talk to your doctor who can help assess your risk factors for osteoporosis and offer personalized recommendations to protect your bones moving forward.
Have you broken a bone? Contact Eric E. Johnson, MD, to get expert orthopaedic care in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles today.