All about bones

Ultrasound scans are now proving handy to assess bone mineral density and determine if you are at risk for osteoporosis. Globally, the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) estimates that the condition causes about nine million fractures a year, most commonly to the hip, spine and wrist. Bone loss also has a serious impact on a person’s health and quality of life. In some cases, it can even lead to long-term disability and death. The disease can also be a high socioeconomic burden, in terms of medical costs and loss of work days.

A new study, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, suggests that data from ultrasound bone tests are as good as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) to assess bone mineral density.

DEXA remains an excellent option as it uses a very small dose of ionising radiation to obtain pictures of the spine and hips to measure bone loss. But it is expensive and many people may not be able to afford it. Ultrasound, by contrast, is portable, inexpensive and involves no radiation. It measures how sound waves move through the bone. The IOF claims about 80 per cent of people at high risk of osteoporosis still remain under-diagnosed even after they have had one fracture.

Skeleton Key

Thinning of bones, or osteo­penia, advances with age. Over time, it can lead to injury. You can help halt it by:

Eating vegetables rich in vitamin C, which stimulates production of bone-forming cells
Strength training, especially those who suffer joint deficiencies in the lower extremities such as arthritis in the knee/ hip
Adding a daily vitamin D supplement to help absorb calcium
Doing high-impact weight-bearing exercises. These are best for building bones, if you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis
Getting bone mineral density tested so that orthopaedic specialists can get a quick and painless snapshot of bone health
Considering medication as calcium and vitamin D can serve as building blocks;
Quitting smoking and excessive drinking
Survival of the Fattest

Obese? Worry not. You may have a lower chance of dying following a stroke than some­one with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI). So claims Dr Zuolu Liu of the University of California, Los Angeles, and her team, as they presented their findings to the American Academy of Neurology. Overall, people with severe obesity had a 62 per cent lower chance of dying from a stroke; people with obesity, 46 per cent; and the overweight 15 per cent. However, the underweight had a 67 per cent higher chance of dying of a stroke. A possible explanation is that overweight or obese people may have a nutritional reserve that may help them survive during pro­lon­ged illness, says Liu. But more research is needed to investigate the relationship between BMI and stroke.

Make Your Hobby Work

Hobbies are fun but you can also make them work for you. The fulfilling, product­ive use of free time boosts your health. Here’s how:

Dancing: It’s a workout like no other that improves cardiovascular health, builds stamina, strengthens bones and muscles
Gardening: Pulling out weeds, planting and usage of tools are a subtle form of aerobic exercise and help improve flexibility
Writing: Seemingly sedentary, the activity helps enhance mental and physical well-being, improves memory, reduces stress levels and ensures good sleep
Listening to music: It boosts the body’s immune system, lowers anxiety levels and eases depression
Adopting a pet: Pushes you outdoors, provides socialising opportunities, improving physical and emotional health.


(Image: Representation only)

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