It's Osteoporosis Month, and while you may have heard of the word osteoporosis before, many people don't actually know what it is. So, what is osteoporosis? Well, the word “osteoporosis” means “porous bone.” Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing, coughing, or minor bumps.
You see, the body is constantly breaking down bone and replacing it with new bone. As the body ages, the rate at which the body breaks down bone begins to outstrip the rate at which new bone is made. This leads to weakened, brittle bones. About 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Unfortunately, many people don't realize that they even have osteoporosis until a fracture occurs. That's why osteoporosis is known as a silent disease. But not only is this disease silent, it's also immensely costly. Osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones and $19 billion in related costs every year. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, by 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately three million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs annually. So, how can you prevent osteoporosis? The best way to avoid pain from osteoporosis is to avoid getting it in the first place. Getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and lean protein, along with plenty of exercise, will help decrease the risk of osteoporosis. However, these changes must be enacted well before you reach peak bone density, typically around age 30. It’s best if these changes happen during childhood, but a healthy lifestyle will be beneficial no matter what age. As an adult, you should avoid extreme diets or crash diets that can lead to malnutrition and deficiencies of calcium, vitamin D, and protein; limit your use of tobacco or alcohol; and do weight-bearing exercises often to help build strong bones.
Okay, so how is osteoporosis diagnosed? The most common way to test or screen for osteoporosis is with dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA), which is a simple, pain-free, low-radiation test. DXA is an X-ray with two different X-ray beams, each with different energy levels. The amount of X-rays that pass through the bone is measured for each beam, and the difference between the two beams is used to determine bone density. Women age 65 and older and men age 70 and older should undergo regular testing for osteoporosis, although high-risk individuals may be encouraged to undergo testing sooner. You can get your DEXA scan right at Medical Center Barbour, too, so there is no need to leave town to see if you have osteoporosis.
What are the treatment options for someone with osteoporosis? Thinning of the bones may be a natural part of aging, but it doesn’t have to severely impact your quality of life. There are osteoporosis treatments that work, and they can be found right in Barbour County at Medical Center Barbour. Our orthopedic doctors located inside the MCB Specialty Clinic are experts in conditions, injuries, and diseases associated with the musculoskeletal system, including conditions like osteoporosis. In addition to that, our MCB Infusion Clinic can administer medications such as Prolia, Eventity, and Reclast that are meant to slow or stop bone loss and build back bone density.