Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin and weak and easily break or fracture. Osteoporosis fractures are more common in women than stroke, heart attack and breast cancer combined.

At right is a picture of a healthy bone; at far right, is a bone with osteoporosis. As the bone weakens, gaps occur and breakage is a greater risk.

West Tennessee Bone & Joint offers a special clinic led by Dr. John Everett for patients with osteoporosis. After practicing general orthopedics for 30 years, Dr. Everett now focuses his practice on identifying people who have the disease and prescribing a treatment plan to help them avoid fractures. 

His clinic, which seeks to lessen patients' risk of fracture, is available at West Tennessee Bone & Joint on Mondays. Read more.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis include:

  • Unexplained back pain
  • Height loss
  • Humped back
  • Limited mobility
  • Broken bones of the hip, spine and wrist

West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic offers bone densitometer (DEXA) scans onsite to help determine the presence of osteoporosis or osteopenia (the prescursor to osteoporosis).

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) has established guidelines for bone density testing and treatment.

The NOF recommends testing for all women over age 65 and all postmenopausal women under age 65 with one or more risk factors. The NOF recommends treatment for women with a bone density “T-score” below -2.0 or below -1.5 when other risk factors are present.

The T-Score expresses the deviation of a Bone Density measurement from the expected value in terms of Standard Deviation Units. For example: a young Normal Adult 100% of average bone mass is said to have a T-Score of 0. After a loss of 10% which is one SD (Standard Deviation), they would have a T-Score of -1. Osteoporosis is a loss of 25% from Young Adult controls or a T-Score of -2.5.

Selected risk factors include early menopause, thin build, Caucasian or Asian descent, personal or family history of fracture, smoking, medications such as steroids, low calcium intake.

Women should take steps to keep bones as strong and healthy as possible.

  • Get a bone density test
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Make sure your diet has enough calcium and vitamin D intake
  • Ask your doctor whether a medication to prevent or treat postmenopausal osteoporosis, such as FOSAMAX, might be right for you

Other types of treatments available include:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Evista
  • Miacalcin

Are you at risk of having osteoporosis?

Women past menopause are at risk for osteoporosis. The good news is you can protect your future.

After menopause, most women experience bone loss, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis. It’s estimated that there are more than 20 million women in America with osteoporosis. Yet relatively few have been diagnosed or treated.

It’s important to know that many effects of bone loss are silent. So you must do everything you can now to help secure a healthier future.

Women prone to bone loss include: those with a family history or osteoporosis, Caucasian women and Asian women, and women who are thin or small-boned.

Other factors that may contribute to risk include:

  • Smoking
  • Too much alcohol
  • Too little exercise
  • Too little calcium (now or as a child)
  • A previous broken bone that resulted from a minor injury
  • Certain medications, such as steroids (commonly used to treat asthma and arthritis) and thyroid hormone (if the does is too high)
  • Early menopause (before age 45)

Although women are at greater risk, men get osteoporosis, too.

Facts and statistics:

  • Up to one in four men over the age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
  • Approximately two million American men already have osteoporosis. About 12 million more are at risk.
  • Men older than 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer.
  • Each year, about 80,000 men will break a hip.
  • Men are more likely than women to die within a year after breaking a hip. This is due to problems related to the break.
  • Men can break bones in the spine or break a hip, but this usually happens at a later age than women.

Call us today to schedule an appointment if you think you have osteoporosis. Dr. John Everett offers an osteoporosis clinic weekly.