Friday, November 21, 2008

Osteopenia

I went for a my first bone density scan and got a big surprise - I have osteopenia.

It is simply the indication that bone loss has occurred and therefore preventative measures need to be taken. Maximum bone mineral density is achieved at 30 and after that it's all down hill. Diet, exercise, illness and certain medications can accelerate bone loss.

My doctor called me with the news. I was told to take calcium supplements and get lots of weight bearing exercise. I work-out, I lift weights, I regularly walk with ankle weights, I take Pilate's and when I'm not deliberately exercising I have three kids who push my body to its limits everyday. How much more can I do? I started to wonder if this advise is totally worthless. I suppose if I wasn't as active perhaps I would have more bone loss, maybe that's the benefit. Either way I think its a weak prescription.

Caffeine, sodas and steroid medication also zap bone loss. I drink very few sodas and I hardly think the one cup of coffee - that I rarely finish is the culprit. What then? How do I solve this mystery? I wonder if nursing 4 kids for a year each contributed? I was a huge fan of nursing. I even went to La Leche meetings. Everyone sat around and nursed and told stories of how wonderful nursing was. No one ever talked about possible side effects like bone loss or sagging body parts.

I've heard that drinking 2% milk doesn't give you the necessary calcium from a regular glass a milk. I can't remember the last time I drank regular milk. Fat is such a giant threat in our society that I think my mother stopped serving whole milk when I was a teen. I remember recently seeing someone drink whole milk and I nearly gagged with disgust.

Family history and being slim are other indicators. Don't know much about family history - my mom hasn't even had a bone scan and she is 71. I am slim - for a couple years when I had braces maybe too slim. Now that they are off and I can chew, I'm eating and I've gained weight but I'm still slim. Is that the final conclusion - being slim caused my osteopenia.

FYI - men can get osteoporosis too. My husband hates milk and rarely takes calcium pills. Yesterday I saw a man with a spine so curved he could barely lift his head upright. I watched him walk to the elevator and thought how painful life must be for him. I was deeply impressed. I don't think that doctors or the medical professionals have adequately addressed this issue and I think that there is a whole lot that is not being shared. I don't want to grow old and not be able to move. I don't want a cane, or a walker, or a wheelchair.
If you know more please share.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I am curious if you told your doctor you already did their suggestions and what they had to say about that. I am also slim. The last time I went to the doctor I was told I needed more calcium than heavier people. And they this is a new recommendation. Thanks for sharing it makes me want to go buy some calcium pills. My mom has osteopenia in certain bone areas (like her lower back) and she is 54.