Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakening of the bones, isn’t just a condition that occurs in people in their 70s or 80s. Osteoporosis can set in as early as the 50s. In fact, 16% of women ages 50 and older have osteoporosis of the femur, neck or lower spine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What causes osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a result of bone loss. The following factors can affect a person’s risk for osteoporosis:
- Being female
- Having a small/petite body frame
- Being of a white or Asian ethnicity
- Having a family history of osteoporosis
- Having low sex hormones (low estrogen and/or menopause in women; low testosterone levels in men)
- Having anorexia nervosa
- Overactive thyroid hormone or overcompensation for a thyroid hormone deficiency with medication
- Overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands
- Eating a diet low in calcium, which builds bone matter, and vitamin D, which is critical for calcium uptake.
- Having undergone a bariatric procedure, which reduces the amount of intestine, where nutrients such as calcium are absorbed.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
In the early stages of bone loss, you might notice the following symptoms:
- A stooped posture
- A gradual loss of height
- Back pain
- Being prone to bone fractures
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult with your primary care provider or a Houston orthopedic physician. Women who have gone through early menopause or have taken corticosteroids for an extended period may take a proactive approach and have a conversation with their physician about osteoporosis. You also could be at risk if either of your parents has sustained a hip fracture.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed and treated?
Your Houston orthopedic physician or primary care provider will diagnose osteoporosis by performing a simple bone density test and evaluating the results. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can be determined based on your estimated risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years.
If risk is relatively low, then treatment may focus on limiting bone loss and modifying behaviors and environment to minimize the risk of falls. If you are at a greater risk for fracture, then you will likely be prescribed a bisphosphonate, the most common type of osteoporosis medication. Hormone therapy may also be recommended to help with bone density.
What can I do to prevent osteoporosis?
There are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, including:
- Incorporating plenty of calcium and vitamin D into your diet. You can find recommendations, based on age and sex, from the National Institutes of Health here.
- Exercising regularly
- Not smoking
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation
Manage Osteoporosis. Schedule With a Houston Orthopedic Doctor
For more information, call us at (713) 756-5546 or schedule an appointment with a Houston orthopedic doctor online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.