Is Your Foot Fracture an Early Sign of Osteoporosis?

Unexplained foot fractures may be the first sign of osteoporosis, a bone thinning disease which affects over 28 million Americans and accounts for 1.5 million bone fractures a year.

Osteoporosis is frequently referred to as the “silent crippler” since it often progresses without any symptoms or isn’t diagnosed until a person experiences pain from a bone fracture. Dr. Kalmar, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, explains that the porous nature of bones in people with osteoporosis makes them more susceptible to bone fractures, especially in the feet. “Because the bones are in a weakened state, normal weight-bearing actions like walking can cause the bones in the foot to break,” says Dr. Kalmar. “In fact, many patients visit their foot and ankle surgeon suffering from foot pain only to find out they actually have a stress fracture, without having experienced an injury.”

While osteoporosis is most commonly seen in women over age 50, younger people and men are also affected. Early symptoms can include increased pain with walking accompanied by redness and swelling on the top of the foot. “Oftentimes patients don’t seek treatment for their symptoms for weeks or even months, thinking the pain will pass,” says Dr. Kalmar. “The best advice is, don’t ignore foot pain of any type. Early intervention can make all the difference in your treatment and recovery.”

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s important to protect your feet from Stress Fractures. Wear shoes that provide support and cushioning, such as athletic running shoes, to provide extra shock absorption and protection. Custom orthotics may also be recommended to protect the foot from pressure and provide shock absorption, particularly during exercise. 

No matter what your age, you can take steps now to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis—a disease that decreases bone density and results in frequent fractures. Here are some tips to improve bone health:

1.       Eat more yogurt—let’s start with the obvious one, getting more dairy into your diet. Milk, cheese and yogurt are all excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D—a vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.

2.       Go for the greens—if you’re not a milk fan or are lactose intolerant, there are other foods that are good sources of calcium. These include leafy green vegetables like bok choy and kale, sardines, white and kidney beans, edamame and almonds. You can also use milk substitutes like soy or almond milk and certain cereals and juices that are fortified with extra calcium.

3.       Do more jumping jacks. If you’re able to do weight-bearing exercise (always check with your physician before starting a new exercise program), this is a great way to keep bones strong.

4.       Keep an eye on the scale. A lower weight means less stress on your bones—particularly those in the lower extremities. Maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet and regular exercise is win-win for your bones and your body.

5.       Sit in the sun. Sunshine increases the amount of vitamin D in your body which helps your body use the calcium it takes in more efficiently. Of course, don’t forget sunscreen to protect your skin!

6.       Be in the know. Discuss your risk of osteoporosis with your foot doctor. Family history, medications, body shape and other factors all come into play when assessing risk for this disease.

If you are suffering from foot pain or suspect you may have osteoporosis, call the office at 631-549-0955 for an evaluation. 

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