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Fracture prevention & healing

Bone health, bone fractures, and low bone density — what we know now

Susan Brown, PhDBy Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD

When most people are told they have low bone density, their greatest concern is whether they are at risk for bone fractures. That’s because many people, even many physicians, make a direct association between low bone density and fracture. But in truth, this association is weak at best. Having low bone density doesn’t mean that you are doomed to fracture, and scientists now agree you cannot predict who will fracture looking only at their bone density. Bone density, at best, is just one of a dozen important fracture risk factors. People with very thin bone density often never experience a fracture, while people with an “osteopenic” or even a “normal” bone density may fracture with even a low-impact fall. The fact is, “thin” bone is not the same as “weak” bone — bones may be thin yet strong, or thick yet weak, or (worst case scenario) thin and weak. The latter is the group most prone to fracture.

Sadly, the fear of fractures drives many people — even some who don’t have osteoporosis — to accept prescriptions for the supposedly bone-strengthening bisphosphonate drugs, such as Fosamax, Boniva, and Actonel. These drugs may offer some short-term benefits to people with severe bone loss, but they make unhealthy long-term changes in the body. We’ve begun to see signs that these drugs don’t so much build or strengthen bone as harden it, and that can cause even greater problems over time — including the fractures the drugs were intended to prevent!

Use of such drugs is largely unnecessary for the vast majority of people, because most people’s bones can be strengthened and made denser by simple nutritional and lifestyle changes that promote the body’s natural bone-building capabilities. When you support your bones with a combination of 20 key nutrients and an alkaline diet, and include exercise and stress reduction into your daily life, your bones can work astonishing changes, becoming stronger and more flexible. And it doesn’t matter when you start — these changes work whether you’re 39 or 89.

If you have been told you’re at risk for fracture, or if you’ve already had one, I encourage you to take our bone health profile to determine how great your risk of a new fracture might be — the results could surprise you. Then, learn just what you’re up against and how to maximize your bone health by reading our articles about bone fractures — what they are, what causes them, how to prevent them, and natural ways to promote bone fracture healing.

Our most popular resources on bone fracture

  • Fractures 101
    Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD offers an overview of the physiology, physics, types, and the risks of fracture.
  • How can we tell who will fracture?
    Take a look beyond mineral density to the new world of fracture risk assessment.
  • Fracture prevention through preventing falls
    Learn how to limit your risk of bone fractures by taking steps to prevent falls. Includes our recipe for strong muscles, addressing problems with balance, and simple environmental modifications.
  • Spinal vertebral fractures
    What recent studies bring to light about spinal vertebral fractures — including the strongest predictors of fracture and overall implications of their findings.
  • How to speed fracture healing
    When you’ve had a bone fracture, there are steps you can take to heal bone faster. Learn about nutritional and natural support you can offer your healing bones from Dr. Susan E. Brown, the osteoporosis nutritionist.
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Original Publication Date: 01/01/2009
Last Modified: 10/02/2014
Principal Author: Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD