Orthopedics Oct 17, 2022

Taking Ownership of Skeletal Health

How to prevent bone fractures before they occur

Reviewed by: J. Mica Guzman Jr., MD, MBA, DABFM, CAQSM and Tammy Noel, MSN, FNP, ONP-C
Written by: Lauren Schneider

Blog social thumb skeletal health

According to the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA), over 2 million adults in the United States experience a fragility fracture each year. Not only can these events cause impaired mobility, but they can also have serious mental health consequences due to the subsequent decrease in one’s independence.

Fortunately, bone fractures are not inevitable. “If we can identify at-risk patients early and get them started on the correct medications and lifestyle modifications, we can prevent fragility fractures from happening,” explains Tammy Noel, MSN, a licensed family nurse practitioner in UT Health Austin’s Musculoskeletal Institute.

View or print our downloadable Preventing Future Fractures flyer.

<br>A Home for Fracture Prevention and Treatment

The Musculoskeletal Institute participates in the AOA’s national Own the Bone initiative, a multidisciplinary program that seeks to address a gap in preventative care affecting fragility fracture patients and those who may be susceptible to bone fracture in the future. Through this initiative, both patient groups can identify and manage the underlying factors that make their bones more vulnerable to fracture.

Learn more about the Musculoskeletal Institute’s participation in the American Orthopaedic Association’s Own the Bone program.

<br>“Initially, the majority of the patients that we saw already had fractures, but now we’re getting referrals for individuals who have recently been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis and people who are just interested in their bone health and what they can do for fracture prevention,” shares J. Mica Guzman, Jr., MD, MBA, DABFM, CAQSM, a board-certified family medicine specialist who serves as the Primary Care Clinical Director for UT Health Austin’s Sports and Injury Clinic within the Musculoskeletal Institute. “Anyone concerned about their risk of fracture can visit our clinic without a referral.”

You may be at higher risk for fragility fractures if you:

  • Have a family history of fractures
  • Have a history of eating disorders
  • Have a history of smoking or excess alcohol use
  • Have a history of long-term glucocorticosteroid treatment
  • Are a post-menopausal woman or a woman over the age of 65
  • A man over the age of 70

“Patients at risk for fragility fractures can monitor their bone health over time by receiving a DEXA scan every few years,” notes Dr. Guzman. “DEXA is short for Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry, an imaging technique that can quantify the density of calcium and other minerals in the bone. A lower bone density is associated with a higher risk of fragility fracture.”

“The Musculoskeletal Institute also offers on-site laboratory services and consultations regarding medication and nutrition,” adds Noel. “Our care team includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physician assistants, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, and more, who can coordinate referrals to other specialists, such as endocrinologists and rheumatologists, to ensure we best address any issues related to the patient’s bone health.”

Maintaining Bone Health at All Stages of Life

A diet low or deficient in calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D puts you at higher risk for bone loss, which is why it’s important to make sure you are fueling your body with the appropriate intake of these vitamins and minerals.

Food sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy products (reduced-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese)
  • Green vegetables (collard greens, bok choy, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, spinach)
  • Almonds
  • Beans
  • Calcium-fortified foods (soy milk, almond milk, tofu, cereals, and breads)

    Foods rich in phosphorus include:

    • Beans and Lentils
    • Beef and chicken liver
    • Low-fat dairy products
    • Meats (chicken, pork, and turkey)
    • Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, and pistachios)
    • Seafood (clams, crab, cuttlefish, salmon, and scallops)
    • Seeds (sunflower and pumpkin)
    • Soy
    • Whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta)

      Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as:

      • Salmon
      • Tuna
      • Sardines
      • Mackerel
      • Fish liver oils
      • Beef liver
      • Egg yolks
      Impact and resistance exercise and participation in weight-bearing and balancing activities can also help regain and maintain bone health.

        Impact exercises can include:

        • Climbing stairs
        • Dancing
        • Jogging
        • Jumping Rope
        • Hiking
        • Running
        • Walking

        Resistance exercise can include:

        • Deadlifts
        • Leg presses
        • Lunges
        • Pull ups
        • Push ups
        • Squats
        • Use of resistance bands

        View or print our downloadable Bone Health flyer.

        <br>“Regardless of age, if someone has any concerns regarding their bone health, they should seek assistance from a bone health expert right away,” advises Dr. Guzman.

        To schedule an appointment at the Musculoskeletal Institute, click here or call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737).

        About UT Health Austin

        UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.