As a leading cause of chronic pain and physical disability worldwide, bone and joint disease affects almost half of the globe’s population in the form of arthritis, osteoporosis, back, knee and hip pain, and muscle and ligament injuries. In many cases, age-related degeneration of the body’s musculoskeletal system is a significant contributing factor in the development of bone and joint disease.

Subsequently, in an ageing population, the economic and societal costs of musculoskeletal conditions are steadily rising. Without greater awareness and intervention, these problems can be expected to dramatically increase, leading to even greater costs in terms of health care requirements and lost productivity. COVID-19, physical distancing, increased work-from-home scenarios and reduced physical activities have directly impacted on this population, so emphasis is even more crucial in 2020.

Bone and Joint Action Week is held annually from October 12th to 20th with activities focused on disorders including arthritis, back pain, trauma, paediatric conditions, and osteoporosis. The themes and their related activities are designed to raise awareness worldwide about prevention, disease management and treatment.

According to World Health Organization:

The global prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions is predicted to increase greatly due to increasing life expectancy and changes in risk factors unless new treatments and preventive measures are found.

Musculoskeletal conditions can lead to significant disability plus diminished productivity and quality of life. Treatment and lost wage costs associated with musculoskeletal diseases in the US alone was estimated at $874 billion in 2009 to 2011 – equal to 5.73 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)

There are five special days during this Action Week.

October 12 – World Arthritis Day

October 16 – World Spine Day

October 17 – World Trauma Day

October 19 – World Paediatric Bone and Joint Day

October 20 – World Osteoporosis Day

Osteoporosis Prevention

When you think about staying healthy, you probably consider lifestyle changes to prevent conditions like cancer and heart disease. Keeping your bones healthy to prevent osteoporosis may not be at the top of your wellness list, but it should be. Osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood but it should not stop there. Whatever your age, the habits you adopt now can affect your bone health for the rest of your life.

Most people do not think of their bones as growing, living tissue. In fact, our bones are continually undergoing change. In a lifelong process called “Bone Remodeling” or “bone turnover”, our bodies are constantly removing old bone tissue and growing new tissue. From birth through our twenties, growth of new tissue outpaces removal of old tissue, resulting in a net gain. By about age 30, most people will reach “peak bone mass” meaning their bones are the strongest and most dense that they will ever be. After age 30 the removal of old bone tissue outpaces formation of new tissue, resulting in a net bone loss.

It’s never too late at any age to take steps to protect your bones.

1. Building dense bones

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to building strong, dense bones when you’re young and to keeping them strong and healthy as you age. Growing older, you can lose more bone than you form. After you reach peak bone mass, the balance between bone formation and bone loss might start to change. You may start to slowly lose more bone than you form. In midlife, bone loss usually speeds up in both men and women. For most women, bone loss increases after menopause, when oestrogen levels drop sharply. In fact, in the five to seven years after menopause, women can lose up to 20 percent or more of their bone density.

2. Eat foods that are good for bone health, such as fruits and vegetables.

The food that you eat can affect your bones. Learning about the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your bone health and overall health will help you make healthier food choices every day. Vitamin D helps your body use calcium. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, or if your body doesn’t absorb it well, you are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun and is also available in a few foods. However, many people may need a vitamin D supplement.

3. Engage in regular exercise.

Physical activity can help you maintain your bone density as you age. Additionally, exercise can help you keep your joints limber, control your weight and improve your balance, all of which can help you avoid bone and joint injuries resulting from slips and falls.

Being active is powerful medicine for people with osteoporosis. It helps slow bone loss and builds stronger muscles to support you so you’re less likely to fall or break a bone. But not just any workout will do. If you’re able, you should do things that strengthen your muscles and mix in some weight-bearing exercises.

Working with weights

This will build bone and strengthen your muscles at the same time. Aim to focus on each major muscle group twice a week with at least one day of rest in between. If you’re new to lifting weights, check with your doctor first, and work with a trainer to learn the right form.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight

Excess weight, even just a few pounds, can significantly increase the stress on your hard-working joints.

5. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day.

Smoking is harmful to bone health on multiple levels. It has a toxic effect on osteoblasts, the cells responsible for manufacturing bone. Women smokers tend to produce less oestrogen, and very young smokers (teenagers, adolescents) run the risk of never reaching peak bone mass.

6. Dance Your Way to Healthier Bones

This is a well-rounded workout: It gets your heart going and keeps you on your feet, making your heart, muscles, and bones stronger. And if you dance with a partner and need to remember specific steps and moves, it’s also a workout for your brain.

Preventing falls is vital

Living with osteoporosis doesn’t have to be inevitable. With early detection and lifestyle changes, you can considerably lessen your risk to develop this disease. Now more than ever, staying fracture-free is critical for anyone with osteoporosis.

A general check of the home can ensure an obstacle free environment. Let us all stay safe, and fracture-free, by following the critical guidance that will help protect all older adults and those who are more vulnerable to the impact of this global virus.

Look out for HEALTH PLUS every Tuesday for more informative and healthful articles. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic, please email [email protected]