Doctors of chiropractic are interested in several areas of your health but the chief among these, of course, is your bone health. Bad bones can lead to an array of problems that can begin in youth and carry on through adulthood and later into life, stifling movement and, as a consequence, limiting lifestyle activities.
As a chiropractor in Fort Lauderdale, I have seen many cases of people whose bone health has been compromised, whether through an accident, poor diet, lack of exercise, or a combination of these. But a skilled licensed doctor of chiropractic is also trained to employ many methods of treatment to address conditions arising from health issues such as osteoporosis. A chiropractor knows how to heal injuries to the bone structure or any compromised issue of health that can make bones generally weak. Through use of spinal manipulation, a chiropractor will heal pain and stiffness, ease inflammation that has a negative effects on the body’s ligaments and joints, which, in turn, affects the bones. Weakened tissues can lead to weakened bones and as we age, this condition often worsens.
There are many things you should know about bone health. According to webMD, one in two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her/his remaining lifetime. “Yet the advanced effects of bone loss – a humped upper back or easily shattered limbs – does not have to be in the future of people who eat wisely and exercise regularly,” the website states.
But what, exactly, are bones? They are living tissue, containing nerves, blood, vessels, and marrow, where blood cells are created. As I addressed in a previous article, bones are constantly tearing down and rebuilding themselves. If they did not, they would break regularly.
To prevent osteoporosis, which are porous bones, you need calcium and vitamin D. WebMD cites author D. Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., who wrote “Food and Our Bones: The Natural Way to Prevent Osteoporosis.” Colbin, according to the website, gives us good advice when it comes to bones and diet: “Look at the animals with the largest bones, such as cows and elephants. What do they eat?” she asks. “Leafy plants.” Which means the biggest component of a bone-healthy diet is leafy greens, both cooked and raw, providing you calcium, vitamin K, potassium and other vital minerals and nutrients.
It cannot be stressed enough: Diet and exercise are keys to maintaining healthy bones. Women over 50, however, may also need calcium supplements. The Institute of Medicine advises women over 50 to take about 1,200 mg daily. Consult a chiropractor to understand the type of calcium – calcium citrate or calcium carbonate – to take, as well as the dosage. There are medications available for people who have suffered bone loss – the best advice is to consult a doctor about the best program for your individual lifestyle. Most times, a refrigerator stocked with vegetables and healthy proteins and fats is the best thing to help bones stay strong.
What else can you do to ensure healthy bones? Doctors advise consuming less caffeine. Too much caffeine blocks the body’s ability to absorb the necessary calcium needed to maintain strong bones. At least one study has shown that drinking more than two cups of coffee per day speeds up bone loss in people whose calcium intake falls below the minimum daily requirement. A study on elderly women also showed that consuming more than 18 ounces of coffee per day increases bone loss by negatively interacting with vitamin D. Heavy alcohol consumption also interferes with vitamin D absorption – more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men. And as if this has to be addressed, smoking cigarettes is also hard on the bones. Many studies have revealed that smoking prevents the body from absorbing calcium.
The American Chiropractic Association also suggests we practice good posture. Good posture, according to the ACA, enables our bodies to “stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities.
The ACA states that correct posture:
- Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
- Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
- Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
- Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic cites the following factors that affect bone health:
- Gender. Women are at greater risk of osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue than men.
- Size. People who are extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame are at risk.
- Age. Bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
- Race and family history. People who are of white or Asian descent have more bone problems – a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis also puts you at greater risk.
- Hormone levels. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels, the Mayo Clinic states.
- Eating disorders and other conditions. People who have anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss. In addition, stomach surgery, weight-loss surgery and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and Cushing’s disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
- Certain medications. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, are damaging to bone. Always consult a doctor about the risks associated with any medication.
And remember: A chiropractor is the one who best knows the bones – how they work, how they break and what makes them stronger and healthier. Consult a Ft. Lauderdale chiropractor for the best program that suits your lifestyle – and you’re on your way to treating the bones in the way they deserve!