Skating on thin ice? How healthy are your bones?
01 March 2013
The recent winter which has descended upon Britain, brings with it icy surfaces and a rise in the number of broken wrists, ankles and hips. Whilst most of us bounce rather than break, an unlucky few are more fragile because of osteoporosis. It is a condition of poor bone mineral density (BMD) - literally a disappearing act of the bones’ dense architecture, rendering them less robust and vulnerable to fracture. If we lived well beyond the age of 100 years, we would all eventually acquire thinned bones, but osteoporosis and osteopenia (the stage of thinning before osteoporosis in terms of decline) aren’t only found in the elderly. In the world of sports medicine, we regularly uncover poor bone condition in young and active patients, whose bone structure changes because of metabolism mis-match between energy consumed in food, and energy expended in exercise. In women, this often co-exists with loss of the menstrual cycle, but men can have low BMD too.
There are no symptoms of low BMD: you can’t feel it as such, and your first sign might be a fracture in a low-force trip or fall. X-rays cannot reliably exclude it, and it takes awareness and a test called DEXA scanning to pick it up. The decline in bone health can be slowed and even improved, but only if you are aware that you have a problem. Early detection is crucial, as is the correct management. So if you’re active and have recently acquired a broken bone, consider getting a bone MOT with a specialist.
Dr Catherine Spencer-Smith MBBS DRCOG MRCGP MSc MFSEM(UK)
Physician in Sports & Exercise Medicine
To book an appointment with one of our Consultant Sports Physicians, please call the Outpatient Appointments team on 020 3811 5131.
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