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Osteoporosis Q&A

Feb 19, 2019, 12:42 PM
Systemic bone disease affects men and women

By Peter Wilcox, DNP, ARNP • Skagit Regional Clinics – Endocrinology

Woman walking her dogs

What is it? Osteoporosis by definition means “porous bone” and is a condition that occurs when the body loses bone mass too rapidly, makes too little new bone or when both of these conditions occur simultaneously leading to fragility fractures.

What causes it? To understand osteoporosis, it is important to know about two very important cells within our body called: Osteoclasts and Osteoblasts. These cells are responsible for the remolding of healthy bones. Some of the conditions that contribute to this disorder include: diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Vitamin D deficiency, premature menopause, hypogonadism, chronic kidney disease, celiac disease, chronic steroid use and weight loss surgery.

What are the consequences? Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease, as you do not feel the bone weakening and therefore it is important to cue into subtle signs such as loss of height, chronic back pain or bone fracture from minor trauma such as a ground level fall. After a hip fracture, 10 to 20 percent of active/independent patients require long-term nursing care. In Caucasian women, one in six will develop a hip fracture and is more prevalent than a breast cancer lifetime diagnosis.

What can be done? As with all things in medicine, prevention is the key. Diet, exercise and following recommended screening guidelines are the foundation for healthy bones. Calcium and Vitamin D are essential components of nutrition to ensure the body is able to maintain adequate bone health. Weight-bearing exercises are also essential for maintaining a strong skeletal structure. There are two forms of weight-bearing exercise consisting of high-impact and low-impact. The form of exercise that is appropriate for you should be discussed with your medical provider. When the preventive methods are not sufficient and an individual develops osteoporosis there are safe and effective pharmaceutical options available that have been proven to reduce fracture risks. 

What are the current screening guidelines? The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends screening if:

• you are a woman age 65 or older

• you are a man age 70 or older

• you have broken a bone after the age 50

• you are a woman of menopausal age with additional risk factors

• you are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with additional risk factors

• you are a man age 50-69 with additional risk factors


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Last post : 06/25/2019