What Do You Know About Osteoporosis?

 
What Do You Know About Osteoporosis image

Robert J. Schwab, M.D.
Boys Town Internal Medicine 

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone density due to a loss of calcium in the bones. Diminishing bone density can cause bones to become weak, brittle and more prone to stress fractures and bone breaks. Osteoporosis can occur at any age, so the best defense against this condition is to prevent it before you have to treat it.

Why are women more at risk?

Women have a much greater chance of developing osteoporosis in their lifetime commonly due to hormonal balance changes after menopause. Estrogen is a promoter of bone health that makes the bones stronger by driving calcium into the bones. After menopause, estrogen is no longer secreted and bones become weaker.

What are the signs of Osteoporosis?

The early signs of Osteoporosis are subtle and may include:

  • Shrinking - The bones are shrinking causing a person’s height to decrease.
  • Rounded back – The bones are becoming weak creating an excessive curvature in the spine.

Is Osteoporosis reversible?

The good news is that Osteoporosis is reversible. Adding calcium and vitamin D to your diet will increase calcium absorption in the bones and adding weight baring exercises will increase your bone strength. If needed, your physician can prescribe medications that will help increase bone density.

Can you prevent Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can be prevented by monitoring your daily calcium and vitamin D intake. Children, adolescents and adults can include these nutrients or supplements in their daily diet. Exercise and strength training will promote bone health. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and medications that can decrease bone density.

When should I talk to my doctor?

If you currently have Osteoporosis or Osteopenia (a precursor to Osteoporosis) you should be working with your physician on a plan to increase your bone density. If you have a history of Osteoporosis in your family or are taking medications that may interfere with bone density, you should discuss this with your primary physician. If you have any questions or concerns about your bone health, you should consult with your physician.