3 strategies to prevent hip fracture

About 1 in 10 people will suffer a hip fracture in their lifetime, and about 50 percent of those who fracture a hip will drop down one functional level, even after treatment. This past Tuesday, Christopher Vitale, DO, Ortho NorthEast, spoke on the PBS39 talk show HealthLine to discuss prevention and treatment of hip fractures in people 55 and older.

As we age, we naturally lose bone mass. This, combined with other risk factors, such as osteoporosis, causes millions of people every year to suffer hip fractures. Most of the time (99 percent of the time) hip fractures require surgery, and the recovery period is long and strenuous.

There are ways to lower the risk of hip fractures. Prevention is key, and by focusing on home safety, diet and exercise, individuals can give themselves the best chance of avoiding injury.

Home Safety.
Fall prevention is the No. 1 way to decrease the risk of hip fractures. As we age, we’re more prone to slipping, tripping or falling over things that wouldn’t have been a problem in the past.  Although it can be hard to change a home we’ve lived in for years, taking some simple precautions can make all the difference. Try these safety tips for your home:

  • Make sure you have sufficient lighting in stairwells
  • Install handrails in stairwells
  • Pick up all throw rugs
  • Install handrails in the bathroom
  • Place a sticky mat in the shower to prevent slips

Diet.
Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important nutrients for bone health. Unfortunately, many of us are vitamin D deficient, especially in winter months. Even in the summer, our sunscreen keeps us from producing about 90 percent of the vitamin D we could be producing. This means we have to get these nutrients from our food. Dairy products, leafy greens, and some seafood are great sources of calcium and vitamin D. Additionally, everyone over the age of 50 should be taking a daily multivitamin, a calcium supplement and a vitamin D supplement. To ensure safety and quality, purchase name-brand supplements that have a USP seal.

Exercise.
Even though we lose bone mass naturally as we age, we can maintain bone strength through exercise. Putting stress and weight on your bones regularly keeps them healthy and strong. Some great ways to maintain bone strength are:          

  • Lifting weights
  • Walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a stationary bicycle

Finally, there are injectable and oral medications you can take to maintain bone health, and while they don’t create bone, they will stabilize the bone mass that already exists. Talk to your primary care physician or your endocrinologist to see if these treatments are right for you.

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