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csgnyc posted:
Help. Someone I'm close to was diagnosed today with severe osteoporosis. She's almost 51, very small-boned, has been an alcoholic but has been sober for 2 years, may have been somewhat malnourshed in recent years on account of the alcohol and/or stressed, but this doesn't seem to have been too bad.

She's freaking out and inconsolable. She's particularly upset because she is also in pain from degenerative disc disease, and as a result questions whether she can ever exercise or move about appropriately. She sees this as a death sentence -- she'll never be functional, and one small auto accident (she lives in NYC) could be the end of her.

I'm new to this illness. I see from some quick web research that better nutrition, exercise, and medication help the condition, but I'd like to be able to give her some concrete information regarding treatment and manageability. She's especially distraught because she considers herself to be too young for this illness.

Thanks for any thoughts.
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bonebabe responded:
Osteoporosis in a person as young as she is doesn't carry the grisks of fracture as that in an older person. There's certainly reason to be cautious but encouraged.

Her alcoholism did play a big part in her thinning bones as did her lack of calcium. It may very well be that she never built up her potential maximum bone mass due to the nutrition factor, consequently her bones may have always been thin.

At 51, has she gone through menopause? Technically speaking no diagnosis is given to premenopausal women, but I suspect she's either peri or postmenopausal. If she's still having even spotty periods, she can expect her bone density to get even a little lower as her body stops producing estrogen.

At the very least, she needs to consume 1200 mg of calcium each day. The body will only absorb 500 mg at a time so tell her to spread it out throughout the day. Also get in about 1000 IU of Vit D. This can best be accomplished by taking a calcium supplement with Vit D. It doesn't need to be expensive. Calcium is calcium and there's none better than another. Just read the label carefully to see what a dose it. Calcium citrate is usually 2 pills = one dose of 600 mg while calcium carbonate is one pill = 600 mg. Calcium citrate is a wiser choice if constipation is a problem.

Exercise is a must. Just no bending forward at the spine or twisting of the spine. Also no running as that pounds the vertebrae. The current recommendation is 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. It is also recommended that you're on your feet 4 or more hours a day.

There's a very good booklet from the National Osteoporosis Foundation called "Boning Up on Osteoporosis" that we use in our osteo rehab classes. It can be ordered on line at www.nof.org for $1.00. It answers all your questions and then some and even gives illustrations of exercises to do and not to do.

It also addresses the different approved medications for osteoporosis. Please bear in mind - no matter what you hear to the contrary - that there is nothing natural that will reverse osteoporosis. Nothing. Only medication can do that in conjunction with calcium, Vit D and exercise.

Tell her she is what she thinks she is and if she sees herself as a housebound invalid, that she will become. She has plenty of years to live an active an fulfilling life now that she's aware. She's lucky to have found out now.


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