Archive for Saturday, December 5, 2009

Osteoporosis growing concern nationwide, locally

Judy Schwinn, right, is a registered nurse at LMH and  suffered a hip fracture about four years ago. She also suffers from osteoporosis.

Judy Schwinn, right, is a registered nurse at LMH and suffered a hip fracture about four years ago. She also suffers from osteoporosis.

December 5, 2009


Osteoporosis affects 8 million women and 2 million men in the United States.

Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people experience a fracture from a fall because of osteoporosis.

According to a National Hospital Discharge Survey in 2005, 68 percent of fractures that required hospitalizations were due to falls, followed by motor vehicle accidents at 21 percent, sports injuries at 4 percent and assaults at 3 percent.

The mortality rate associated with osteoporosis-related fractures is greater than the rates associated with breast cancer and cervical cancer combined.

Coming Monday

Learn about Lawrence's new Healthy Bones Team and what it hopes to accomplish. Also, a national expert talks about how a similar program made a big impact in Southern California.

With the rapidly aging population, the problem of osteoporosis is reaching epidemic proportions and raising concerns nationwide and in the Lawrence area.

McLouth resident Judy Schwinn, 57, knows firsthand the dangers of the disease, which runs in her family. Her mother and sister also have it. Schwinn began having bone density tests at age 50.

About four years ago, an X-ray revealed she had fractured her hip.

“I had gone a long time just limping and hurting in my joints, and I just thought I was getting older,” she said. “I wasn’t aware that my bones were that bad.”

A Lawrence doctor prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements to see whether the fracture would heal naturally. They waited three months, but it didn’t.

She had surgery, which was followed by three months of physical therapy. She continues to take supplements and closely monitor her bone density level.

Schwinn said the fracture was painful, but having weak bones doesn’t necessarily hurt.

“I find that I am limiting myself a little bit because of my knowledge that I can’t do some of the activities that I would have normally have done when I was younger,” she said. “I am very cautious when I am climbing on a chair to hang a new picture. I worry more — rather than being in pain.”

Schwinn, a longtime registered nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, wishes she would have taken better care of herself and her bones earlier in life.

“I can’t say that I was a good milk drinker when I was young,” she said. “I didn’t get the calcium that I needed when I was young.”

Unfortunately, she’s not alone.

“As a nurse, I see not just aging people, but young people with fractures that are coming to the hospital,” she said.

On Friday, there were four people hospitalized at Lawrence Memorial Hospital with hip fractures. Dr. Doug Stull, of OrthoKansas in Lawrence, estimated that the practice's surgeons saw between 150 and 300 patients with hip fractures annually.

According to the National Hospital Discharge survey, hip fractures are most common at 19.6 percent. Other types of fractures that require hospitalization: upper extremity, 17.2 percent; spine, 13.1 percent; ankle, 7.4 percent; rib, 7.3 percent; pelvis, 6.8 percent; face, 6.5 percent; tibia-fibula, 6.3 percent; skull, 5.7 percent; femoral shaft, 4.1 percent; foot, 3 percent, and other, 3 percent.

Schwinn hopes a new Healthy Bones Team that recently formed in Lawrence can make a difference.

“If this program could help people start sooner, then maybe I won’t have to take care of them with a fracture,” she said.


Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

"Recent studies have shown that the risk of osteoporosis is lower for people who are active, and especially those who do load-bearing, or weight-bearing activities at least three times a week.

How can exercise help prevent Osteoporosis? How can exercise prevent osteoporosis? Muscle pulling on bone builds bone, so weight-bearing exercise builds denser, stronger bones. The more bone mass you build before age 25 or 30, the better off you will be during the years of gradual bone loss. Exercise can also help you maintain bone density later in life.

The best exercises for building bone are weight- or load-bearing exercises. These include weight-lifting, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing, step aerobics, dancing, racquet sports, and other activities that require your muscles to work against gravity.

Swimming and simply walking, although good for cardiovascular fitness, are not the best exercises for building bone.

Thirty minutes of weight-bearing exercise daily benefits not only your bones, but improves heart health, muscle strength, coordination, and balance. Those 30 minutes don't need to be done all at once; it's just as good for you to do 10 minutes at a time.

If you already have osteoporosis, you might wonder whether you should exercise at all. The answer for most people is YES. You should speak to your doctor to learn what types of exercises you can safely do to preserve bone and to strengthen your back and hips. Keep in mind, however, that exercise alone can't prevent or cure osteoporosi"

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