From the Providers Desk ~

From the desk of Susanna Thomas MD

About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis.

While the process of gradual bone loss is usually a silent process, half of all women older than 50, and up to one in four men, will break a bone because of osteoporosis. A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined.


A man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.

This process is more common in men than in women because of the effect of estrogen on bone strength. After menopause women lose 2% of their bone for the first 10 yrs after menopause then ½ to 1% a year.   Fractures from osteoporosis are not like broken arms but called compression fractures because the bone structure becomes so weakened that the bone compresses. These means that a woman with weakened bones can fracture her  back lifting groceries or even sneezing. I have a patient that broke 3 ribs when her grandson hugged her .

Hip fractures are another osteoporotic fracture than can happen with a slip or fall. These fractures require surgical pinning hospitalization and often a stay in a rehabilitation facility. Once you have a fracture you are at very high risk of getting another because osteoporosis is a diffuse process. Osteoporosis causes loss of height and  causes a  stooped  posture. Osteoporotic fractures often cause severe pain that may not go away.

Osteoporosis may even keep you from getting around easily and doing the things you enjoy. This can make you feel isolated and depressed. It can also lead to other health problems. Twenty percent of seniors who break a hip die within one year from problems related to the broken bone itself or surgery to repair it. Many of those who survive need long-term nursing home care.

Did you know?

A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined; a man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.

Who is at most risk?

  • Being over age 50
  • Female, menopause, white ,thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Medical conditions: dysfunction of adrenal gland, anorexia
  • Medications: taking  too much thyroid medication, some GERD medications
  • Diet poor in calcium , fruits and vegetables
  • Inactivity
  • Drinking too much alcohol and smoking

What to do before menopause?

  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke or drink to excess
  • Be sure your diet is rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Have your vitamin D level checked
  • Stay active and exercise daily

What to do after menopause?

You should have a bone density and a FRAX calculation which calculates your 10 yr. risk of any fracture and hip fracture.  Bone density tests, covered by insurance companies every 2 years, are actually crude evaluations and are best used as a screening tool not as helpful to monitor progess. Work with your medical provider to  interpret these test in the context of your general health to create a plan.  Start with 1500 mg. elemental calcium, either from food  or supplements , 2000 IU vitamin D3 ( unless you are deficient and need more) and regular weight bearing exercise (avoid sneakers with thick heel padding). If you are a candidate for medications for fracture prevention, there are several and you need to review your options in the context of your risk factors and other medical issues. Everyone needs their own personalized plan for osteoporosis treatment.  Potential medications include oral bisphosphonates,  Actonel, Fosamax, Boniva and the intravenous bisphosphonate given once a year  Reclast. Other choices are  Evista ( selective estrogen receptor modulator) and a new medication Prolia which is given with a twice year  injection which is now available in our office.

If you have questions about your osteoporosis risk please call for an appointment today.

Information provided on this website and in the Doctor’s Blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care professional for evaluation of your individual case.

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