Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disorder in which bones become thinner and lose their strength. Individuals with osteoporosis are at higher risk for breaking bones. The most common osteoporosis-related fractures occur in the wrist, hip and spine.

Hip fractures can be difficult to heal. They reduce the person's ability to move around. This can lead to complications and other health problems, and often contribute to premature death.

Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men, largely because of hormonal changes that occur during menopause. Most people with osteoporosis don't know they have it until they have a bone density test or break a bone.

Diagnosing osteoporosis

Sometimes osteoporosis is diagnosed during a regular physical exam when you turn out to have lost some height. This happens because silent fractures of the spine cause it to compress or curve. To verify a diagnosis, an x-ray may be taken to see if your bones are less dense than they had been.

The best way to diagnose osteoporosis (or its precursor, osteopenia) is with a bone density test. The main way to measure bone density is with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This test takes 10 to 15 minutes and is painless. It uses minimal amounts of radiation and generally is done on the spine and hip.

Blood and urine tests may be recommended to identify a cause of osteoporosis, such as a thyroid problem. For most people, however, there is no clear cause of osteoporosis other than aging.

Treating osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can be treated several ways. If it is mild, daily weight-bearing exercise can help build bone mass. Getting more calcium from food, and possibly getting calcium and vitamin D from supplements, can also build bone or at least prevent more bone loss. A number of medications have also been developed to slow bone loss and build bone. Although bone mass usually does not return to normal after treatment, the risk of fracture may decrease dramatically.

Preventing osteoporosis

Preventing osteoporosis is far better than trying to treat it. You can help prevent osteoporosis by

  • eating foods rich in calcium, such as low fat dairy products, sardines, salmon, green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
  • getting more vitamin D from the sun or a supplement
  • doing weight-bearing exercise like brisk walking every day
  • not smoking
  • not drinking too much alcohol

The outlook for people with osteoporosis is good, especially if the problem is detected and treated early. Bone density, even in severe osteoporosis, generally can be stabilized or improved. The risk of fractures can be substantially reduced with treatment.

Osteoporosis Articles

Should you be tested for weak bones?

Bone health is a legitimate concern for both men and women, but low bone strength (osteoporosis) affects men to a lesser degree and later in life. Men with clear risk factors for osteoporosis should have a test called dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). (Locked) More »

Osteoarthritis relief without more pills

For mild osteoarthritis, an occasional dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever may be all that’s needed to keep the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis in check. But as osteoarthritis gets worse, men may become interested in ways to cope with pain and other symptoms without taking more medications. The main options are weight control, exercise, and physical therapy, especially for knee and hip arthritis. Some physical therapists offer additional services, such as ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) . Some people with osteoarthritis find acupuncture helpful. The evidence for “joint support” dietary supplements, in contrast, is poor. More »

Best ways to keep your bones healthy and strong

Keeping bones healthy in older age is crucial to protecting mobility and independence. One way to do that is with weight-bearing activity each week. That includes strength training or any activity that gets a person up and moving. Another way is meeting calcium requirements: 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day for men ages 51 and older, and 1,200 to 1,500 mg per day for women 51 and older. Vitamin D is helpful for calcium absorption, typically 800 to 1,000 IU daily for adults. Reducing risk factors for osteoporosis, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, is also important.    (Locked) More »

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder. The bones become thinner. They lose their strength and are more likely to break. People with osteoporosis have a higher risk of fractures. Bones can fracture even during everyday movements, such as bending or coughing. The most common osteoporotic fractures occur in the wrist, hip and spine. Osteoporosis can cause a great deal of suffering, including loss of independence. Death may even occur, especially when the fracture involves the hip.   (Locked) More »