Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. Osteoporosis and its associated fractures can rob you of your mobility and your independence.
Researchers estimate that about one out of five American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bones of the spine). Osteoporosis also affects more than two million men over the age of 50 and one out of four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.
What causes osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, when too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both. Throughout youth, your body uses calcium and phosphate minerals to produce bones. If you do not get enough calcium, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, bone production and bone tissues may suffer. As you age, calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed back into the body from the bones, which makes the bone tissue weaker. This can result in brittle, fragile bones that are more prone to fractures, even without injury. Usually, bone loss occurs gradually over years. Many times, a person will have a fracture before becoming aware that the disease is present. By the time this occurs, the disease is in its advanced stages and damage is severe.
Other causes of osteoporosis
- Being confined to a bed
- Cushing syndrome
- Excess corticosteroid levels due to ongoing use of medicines for disorders such as asthma and COPD
- Hyperthyroidism (a thyroid condition)
- Hyperparathyroidism (disease of the parathyroid glands)
- Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
Other risk factors for osteoporosis
Absence of menstrual periods or early menopause, drinking large amount of alcohol, eating disorders, family history of osteoporosis, low body weight, too little calcium in the diet, and use of certain medications, including steroids and anti-seizure drugs.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Symptoms occurring late in the disease include:
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Fractures with little or no trauma
- Loss of height over time or stooped posture
- Low-back pain or neck pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
Who should be screened for low bone density?
Bone density testing is strongly recommended for the following people:
- Women aged 65 and older
- Postmenopausal women under age 65 with risk factors for fracture
- Women during the menopausal transition with clinical risk factors for fracture.
- Men aged 70 and older
- Men under age 70 with clinical risk factors for fracture (or with a fragility fracture)
- Adults with a disease or condition associated with low bone mass or bone loss
- Adults taking medications associated with low bone mass or bone loss
- Anyone not receiving therapy in whom evidence of bone loss would lead to treatment
Bone density testing at Community Westview
Early detection using bone density measurement is the best way to protect you from the potentially debilitating effects of osteoporosis. Westview offers you the most recent technology in bone density testing – GE Healthcare’s Lunar iDXA™ (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry). This bone density testing is used most often to diagnose osteoporosis, but can also assess your risk for developing fractures. The text takes approximately five to twenty minutes.
The iDXA provides your physician with unprecedented image quality with the best precision and accuracy, allowing them to detect, diagnose, and monitor the treatment of osteoporosis.
Other features of the iDXA include the ability to:
- Detect bone changes two times faster than any other system, to track bone changes that previously were too small to detect – and up to 40% better clinical precision.
- Analyzes body composition, including fat percentage and distribution.
- Offers a unique assessment of hip and overall fracture risk based on specific patient data such as age and gender.
The iDXA system at Westview is the only one in the Indianapolis metropolitan area.
How much radiation will I be exposed to?
You will be exposed to very little radiation — in fact, in most cases, less than a standard chest X-ray. Be sure to tell your physician and the technician if you are pregnant.
What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothing, preferably something without metal buttons, buckles, or zippers.
What can you do to prevent osteoporosis?
Calcium is essential for building and maintaining healthy bone, and essential in preventing osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also needed because it helps your body absorb calcium. Following a healthy, well-balanced diet can help you get these and other important nutrients throughout life. Current recommendations are under the age of 50 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D daily, and over the age of 50 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Other tips for prevention include – avoid drinking excess alcohol, don’t smoke and get regular exercise.
Osteoporosis: Can it happen to you?
This quiz will help you determine your risk of developing osteoporosis.
The more times you answer “yes,” the greater your risk for developing osteoporosis. Visit your primary care physician for more information and inquire if you should have a bone density test. If you need to schedule a bone density test call Community Westview Center for Bone Health at 317-920-4400.
1. Do you have a small, thin frame?
2. Do you have a family history of osteoporosis?
3. Are you a post-menopausal woman?
4. Have you had an early or surgically induced menopause?
5. Have you been taking excessive thyroid medication or high doses of cortisone-like drugs for asthma, arthritis or cancer?
6. Is your diet low in dairy products and other sources of calcium?
7. Are you physically inactive?
8. Do you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in excess?
9. Have you had weight loss since age 25?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you could be at risk for osteoporosis. Please contact your primary care physician for more information or for a consultation.
Schedule an appointment
For an osteoporosis consultation or to schedule a bone density test, call 317-920-4400.
Download the Center for Bone Health brochure >>