Bone health: Protecting yourself as you age

Archive, February, Month

As we age, our bones become weaker and our risk for falls increase.

It’s not a car crash, but the results could be just as devastating as one, says Dr. Michael Milshteyn.

“As we age, our bone density decreases,” the orthopedic trauma surgeon said. “When we’re elderly, just a small fall would cause a fracture just as serious as it would in a motor vehicle accident in a younger person.”

Outside of environmental conditions that might cause a person to slip or trip into a fall, there are a number of medical conditions — mostly affecting the elderly — that can result in falls, such as arthritis, impaired muscle function or balance, muscle weakness and even low blood pressure.

The falls can result in serious injuries and fractures to both the upper and lower extremities.

“Shoulder fractures, wrist fractures are very common,” Dr. Milshteyn said. “Spine fractures are common, and even pelvis fractures are common. Basically, any fracture is common in the elderly with varying severities.”

The cause for many falls can be addressed and their risk for injury lowered with some lifestyle changes, the most important of which, according to Dr. Milshteyn, is by having conversations about bone health with a primary care provider.

Yearly check-ups, tests to determine bone density, medications and vitamin and mineral supplements can all help.

“Nutrition and making sure that you’re eating right and getting enough calories,” he said. “They’re not getting enough calories to sustain their muscle mass, and having an increased muscle mass decreases the chance of falls.”

The importance of addressing falls and avoiding fall injuries cannot be overstated as having a fracture increases the chances of having another, significantly limiting the ability to function independently.


Trauma care at McLaren Macomb

Learn more about what it takes to become a verified Level II trauma center.

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Hear from the expert

Listen to a podcast interview on bone health with Dr. Michael Milshteyn.

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