The natural ageing process increases your likelihood of experiencing spine compressions, or tiny fractures along any portion of the vertebrae in the spine. While you cannot stop from growing older, there are some other things you can do to improve your bone health and avoid experiencing spine compressions.
Research Your Medication
One of the main causes of spinal compression is osteoporosis, a reduction of your bone density. Weaker bones mean you could more easily sustain a fracture through simple daily activities like walking down stairs or picking up a child. You can explore your options for medications that fight osteoporosis with your physician. Most medications are taken orally, while others are delivered by injection. Medication fights osteoporosis by either slowing the rate of bone thinning or physically increasing bone formation.
Don't Smoke Or Drink Alcohol
To decrease your likelihood of developing spine compressions, stop smoking and drinking right away. When you smoke, blood flow to your bones is reduced, hindering calcium absorption and the production of bone-forming cells.
Drinking excessive alcohol—3 ounces daily—while you're young affects the health of your bones, putting you at risk for osteoporosis later in life. Alcohol in your stomach blocks the absorption of calcium and affects your pancreas and liver by interfering further with calcium absorption. Fortunately, studies show that bones have a chance to partially regrow after you stop drinking.
Educate Yourself About Risk Factors
Certain groups of people are more prone to osteoporosis than others. By educating yourself about whether you fit into one of these groups, you can take steps to strengthen your own bone density. Here are a few factors that can make you more likely to develop osteoporosis:
- Age: People over 65 years in age are at greater risk
- Gender: Women are at greater risk than men due to menopause
- Race: Asian and Caucasian races are more likely to develop osteoporosis
- Bone structure: Small-boned body frames are more at risk
Find out about your genetic history, as osteoporosis is inherited. Knowing about fractures occurring to ancestors and relatives, especially on your mother's side of the family, can be early warning signs for osteoporosis.
One of the best ways to help prevent osteoporosis and spine compressions is to test your bone mass. A bone mineral density test, or BMD, uses the hip bone or lumbar spine to measure bone mass. This test is painless. Better yet, a dual energy x-ray absorption scan, or DEXA scan, can not only diagnose osteoporosis, but it can also track any changes in bone density over time. A DEXA scan takes low energy x-rays of your lower spine.
Take Calcium Supplements
If you are not eating enough calcium, your body will steal it from your calcium-rich bones and use it for other necessary areas like your heart, blood, and muscles. This weakens your bones. In addition to making sure you eat food high in calcium, take a daily calcium supplement to help strengthen your bones. Don't like dairy products? Consider some of these foods high in calcium instead:
- Bone-in sardines and canned salmon
- Broccoli, bok choy, okra, and kale
- Oranges and figs
- Edamame and white beans
Increase Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is naturally difficult to absorb, by transferring it from your gastrointestinal tract to your bones. You can increase your diet of foods rich in vitamin D or take supplements along with your calcium. One surprising way to get more vitamin D is simply by spending time in the sunshine, which manufactures this vitamin on your skin. However, don't expose yourself to the sun during peak UV times; instead, go outside in the morning or late afternoon.
Discuss with a doctor, such as those at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates, different ways you can help decrease your chances for having spine compressions.