Osteoporosis is a bone disease that primarily affects older patients. This condition causes bone weakening and gaps, which leave your bones very vulnerable to fracture.
You can't feel osteoporosis, so it's quite common for older adults to sustain a bone fracture before they're even aware they have the disease. About half of women and one-fourth of men over age 50 experience an osteoporosis-related bone break.
The signs of osteoporosis include:
If you have osteoporosis, you may break a bone with only a minor fall, impact, or collision. Hip, wrist, and vertebral compression fractures are particularly common among osteoporosis sufferers.
All women over 65 should have bone density testing. You may need testing before that age if you're postmenopausal and have at least one osteoporosis risk factor such as a small body frame, a family history of osteoporosis, a diet low in calcium, or Asian or Caucasian race. Smoking and high alcohol intake can also increase your risk.
Although it’s less common, men can get osteoporosis, too. In fact, men over 50 break a bone due to osteoporosis more often than they develop prostate cancer. Osteoporosis risk factors for men include Caucasian race, older age, smoking, heavy alcohol intake, low-calcium diet, low testosterone, and certain medications.
Bone density testing can tell you whether you have or are at risk for osteoporosis. The West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic, P.C. team performs bone densitometry (DEXA) scans in the office to check your bone density.
If the result of your DEXA scan (called a T-score) is -2.5 or lower, for example, -3.0 or -3.5, you have osteoporosis. If you have a T-score of between -1.0 and -2.5, you have low bone density, medically known as osteopenia.
If you have osteoporosis or low bone density, the team can help you start an osteoporosis treatment plan.
Keeping your bones strong is vitally important. You can do this by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and having DEXA screenings as recommended by the West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic, P.C. team.
You may also benefit from medication that helps prevent bone fractures. Other options can include hormone replacement therapy and bone-building medications.
The West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic, P.C. team is here to help you avoid the damaging effects of osteoporosis. Call the office nearest you or arrange your appointment online now.