Affecting approximately 14 million people in the United States today and 200 million worldwide, Osteoporosis is a bone loss condition that is not only preventable, but also treatable.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease in which reduced bone mass results in weak and brittle bones that are susceptible to breaking.
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What Causes Osteoporosis?
In our body, the rebuilding of bone is a lifelong process that occurs when cells break down old bone, preparing for new, healthy bone to be laid by other cells. This remodeling process can become unbalanced as we age, where more breaking down than new bone creation takes place. There’s typically no specific cause of osteoporosis, but some secondary reasons that can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include:
- Medications, such as anti-estrogen treatment for breast cancer, testosterone-lowering treatment for prostate cancer, steroids, and some anti-epileptic drugs.
- Hormone abnormalities, such as Cushing’s syndrome, hypogonadism, hyperthyroidism, estrogen deficiency in women, and hyperparathyroidism.
- Celiac disease, chronic kidney disease, inflammatory arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, lack of exercise, being underweight, and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.
Signs of Osteoporosis (Osteoporosis Symptoms)
Osteoporosis does not present outward symptoms and often remains undiagnosed until a small break occurs in hip, spin, or wrist, the most common fractures seen in osteoporosis. We recommend you come in for testing if an x-ray has shown you have a fracture or bone loss in your spine, you’re experiencing thoracic back pain due to a fracture, or your height has decreased at least ½ inch in the last year.
The following risk factors can make you more susceptible to developing osteoporosis:
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Calcium/vitamin D deficiency
- Long term treatment with corticosteroids
- Smoking history
- Fracture after age 50
- Low body weight
- Inadequate physical activity
- Early menopause
Osteoporosis Diagnosis (When to see an Endocrinologist)
If you’ve suffered a fracture in your hip or back or have received an abnormal bone mineral density result in the category of osteoporosis, we recommend you come in for a full evaluation by one of our expert endocrinologists.
We treat osteoporosis with calcium, vitamin D, and pharmacologic medications. And we include fracture prevention measures into your treatment plan if we assess you’re at risk for falling.
Who has the highest risk of osteoporosis?
Caucasian women over the age of 50 are the most susceptible to developing osteoporosis. In fact, half of women over 50 experience a small bone break as a result of osteoporosis. This is the case for only about 20% of men.
Is osteoporosis painful?
The condition itself isn’t painful, but when it leads to fractures in the hip, spine, and wrist, the resulting discomfort is obvious. If you experience sudden, severe back pain, you may have a spinal compression fracture, the most common cause of osteoporosis pain. Call us immediately to schedule an appointment with one of our pain specialists, so we can relieve your pain and set you on a path to healing and recovery.
How can I prevent osteoporosis?
Exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet of about 700mg of calcium a day and plenty of vitamin D, 90% of which is made by our body when we’re exposed to sunlight, keeps bones stronger. Calcium rich foods include dairy, breads and cereals, broccoli, oranges, and certain fish, such as crab, sardines, and salmon.
Is osteoporosis reversable?
Yes! We implement a series of medical therapies that can slow, maintain, and increase bone density. When you come into our office, we conduct a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, and depending on the degree of your condition, we design a treatment plan that may include medications, diet and exercise regimens, and lifestyle changes that would not only prevent your condition from worsening and reduce your risk for bone fractures, but also work to reverse your bone loss.
What is the difference between osteoporosis and osteopenia?
Osteoporosis and osteopenia are both diseases in which bone density is low, but osteopenia is a midway point to osteoporosis, meaning the bone density is lower than normal but not severe, so we treat it in such a way to slow the progression of bone loss in an effort to prevent osteoporosis. The bones of a person with osteopenia are not as porous and brittle, so we take measures to prevent the onset of osteoporosis.