Osteoporosis, the most common bone disease in humans, is a condition of reduced bone mass, reduced strength, and increased chance of fracture (bone break). It is a silent condition that causes no symptoms unless a broken bone occurs, at which time there is pain and maybe an accompanying loss of function. Osteoporosis, often termed “thinning of the bones”, can lead to breaking of the vertebrae in the spine. Breaks may occur because of a fall or injury, or simply because the bones have become too thin. Fractures in seniors occur more often in the upper back area, although all vertebrae are at risk.
The loss of bone mass is a natural aging condition, commencing around the age of 30 when new bone growth cannot keep up with the absorption of existing bone cells by the body. Osteopenia is a condition of reduced bone minerals and density; a patient with osteopenia may not have bone loss; but a naturally lower bone mineral density (BMD). The patient with osteopenia has a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Bone density testing, also referred to as DEXA scanning, is recommended for all women 65 years of age or older and younger post-menopausal women with other risk factors such as a history of smoking, or a fracture as an adult. It is also recommended for men aged 65 or older who have had a prior fracture, and men over the age of 80 years.
Treatment of Osteoporosis:
Bone density testing, which is a special x-ray exam of bone, is done on site, and can detect osteoporosis or the condition of milder bone loss called osteopenia, before a break occurs. Bone density is also measured after a break to guide treatment to reduce the possibility of future fractures. DEXA scanning has become the most widely used method for measuring bone mineral density and small changes in bone mass. Our new, state of the art DEXA scanner is so flexible it can be used to examine the spine, hip or the total body. DEXA scanning exposes the patient to less radiation and is accurate at measuring subtle changes in bone density over time or in response to drug therapy.
Treatment for Osteoporosis:
Treatment with medication is started immediately for patients with osteoporosis who have suffered fractures. The DEXA scan is done as soon possible. However we recognize in our assessment that bone density is only one factor in fracture risk. Medications and drug therapy programs are assessed for both prevention of further fractures and treatment. We treat Osteopenia by taking steps to halt the progression to osteoporosis. For some that means lifestyle changes to help reduce bone loss and minimize the risk of osteoporosis. We pay attention to your diet, and start you on a weight bearing exercise program.