How to avoid fractures

IT IS DIFFICULT TO FIND A PERSON WHO WOULD NOT HAVE ANY KNEE BACK OR NECK AT LEAST IN LIFE – but few people know how to properly take care of their bones and joints. Do I need to drink chondroprotectors – drugs that protect the articular cartilage? Is running dangerous for your knees? What is salt deposition? Is it true that women have a higher risk of bone fractures? We understand these and other issues.

Is running dangerous?

Significant loads can harm the body – and professional athletes, such as football players, sometimes even have to go for replacement, or prosthetics, knee or hip joints. But how dangerous are ordinary, amateur sports? In 2008, Stanford University conducted a study involving about a thousand people who are fond of jogging. The condition of the knees of runners and those who had never run was the same.     

It is worth remembering that a healthy joint does not make clicks or creaks, does not crunch or hurt, and the range of motion in it is not limited by anything. If any warning symptoms appear, it is better to see a doctor – it is quite possible it is arthritis or arthrosis. The word “arthritis” literally means joint inflammation – and it can be of very different nature. There is infectious arthritis, traumatic or, for example, arthritis as a manifestation of systemic autoimmune disorders – more than a hundred types are distinguished in total. Be that as it may, together with your doctor, you need to determine the cause of arthritis or arthrosis and start treatment.    

Often people frighten each other with a kind of “salt deposition” – in medicine this concept does not exist, but in everyday life this is what osteophytes are called – outgrowths of bone tissue directed into the joint. Most often, osteophytes are found in the spine, are detected during X-ray examination. If the osteophyte does not manifest itself in any way (for example, does not cause pain), then it is not necessary to treat it.  

Do you need a “magic” pill?

If you believe the advertising, then chondroprotectors – dietary supplements for the prevention of joint diseases – are needed by absolutely everyone. Most of these supplements are based on a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate; these substances relieve swelling, reduce inflammation, prevent destruction and stimulate the formation of cartilage tissue in the joint. In theory, they should repair articular cartilage and prevent future damage. But there is still no evidence of their effectiveness: in January 2017, data from a study of these active substances were published – and in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee and hip joints, although they did not cause harm, they were ineffective. With regard to the preventive role of chondroprotectors, scientists believe that the available data are insufficient for definitive conclusions.      

How to keep joints healthy? Move more, strengthen muscles and get rid of excess weight – it increases the load on the joints. To avoid injury, you need to follow the exercise technique and be sure to warm up before training, and after it, do stretching. Shoes should be appropriate for the type of activity – for example, you need to run in running shoes. For those who already have problems, training in the water is recommended : water relieves stress on the joints, but loads the muscles well enough – swimming can even relieve pain.    

Why are women’s bones especially fragile?

If bone density decreases, then osteoporosis develops – increased fragility of bones, in which the lightest injury can lead to a fracture (and sometimes it is enough to sneeze or cough ). The reason is a decrease in the content of calcium compounds in bones; different conditions can lead to this, but the most common of them is menopause . Estrogens are also responsible for bone density – and in the first five years of menopause, when their levels begin to decline, bone mass decreases by about ten percent. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, it occurs in about a third of postmenopausal women in the United States and Europe – and almost half of them will have at least one fracture. Typical slouching in older people is associated with compression fractures of the vertebrae due to too much decrease in their density.           

Osteoporosis can occur at a young age, even in children and adolescents, but is usually associated with other medical conditions (such as diabetes or anorexia) or medication. Those on chemotherapy are even prescribed medications to help combat bone loss. But the most important risk factors remain female gender, age, ethnicity (the risk is higher in Caucasian and Asian women), a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcohol abuse . It is sometimes said that caffeine “flushes” calcium from bones – but several studies have not found a link between coffee consumption and bone density. At the same time, for example, women who smoked had a lower bone mineral density than those who did not smoke.        

Will milk and sports help?

To maintain normal bone calcium levels, it must be supplied with food, and the rate of this intake varies depending on age and hormonal status. Young women need about 1,000 mg per day, postmenopausal women need 1,200, pregnant women need 1,000 to 1,300 mg. You can use this calculator to find out if you are getting enough calcium from food . The main sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, green vegetables like broccoli, some fruits – oranges and apricots, almonds, Brazil nuts. There is a lot of calcium in canned fish that can be eaten directly with the bones – for example, sardines and salmon. Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium , the intake of which is indicated for almost everyone, and the dosage should be determined by the doctor.       

Most important proven fact: Bone density can be increased by strength training. The International Osteoporosis Foundation has published guidelines detailing specific exercises for people of all ages – both for prevention and for those already suffering from osteoporosis. In general, most people are shown strength training for thirty to forty minutes three to four times a week. Studies have shown that when sedentary life fractures occur more frequently: among women who sit for nine hours a day, fractures found on 50% more often than those who are active and sits less than six hours a day. Another important way to prevent osteoporosis during menopause is hormone replacement therapy. By maintaining adequate estrogen levels, it not only improves mood and relieves hot flashes, but also protects bones from loss of density. 

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