WOMEN AND OSTEOPOROSIS

What is osteoporosis?
   Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by the breakdown of bone tissue and increased risk of bone fractures. Osteopenia is a term that describes low bone density regardless of the cause. Between the ages of 11 and 25, bones reach their highest density.

Statistics
More than 10 million people have osteoporosis and another 34 million have low bone density from other causes.
One in two Caucasian Amerian women will experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis during her lifetime.
Up to 30% of people suffering a hip fracture will require nursing home care.
20% of women with a hip fracture will die in the subsequent year as an indirect result of the fracture.

Photo: Healthy bone (left) and osteoporotic bone

Risk Factors
Female gender
Caucasian or Asian race
Thin and small body frames
Family history
Personal history of fracture
Smoking
Excessive alcohol consumption
Lack of exercise
Diet low in calcium
Poor nutrition and poor general health
Low estrogen levels
Chemotherapy
Chronic inflammation
Immobility
Hyperthyroidism
Vitamin D deficiency
Certain medications (long term use of blood thinners or anti-seizure drugs)

Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms related to the location of the fractures.
Fractures of the spine (vertebrae) can cause severe pain that radiates around from the back to the side of the body. Repeated spine fractures can cause chronic lower back pain.
Stress fractures in the feet while walking or stepping down.
X-rays will reveal osteoporosis and CT exams can quantify bone density.
Osteoporosis can progress silently for decades.

Treatment
   The goal of osteoporosis treatment is the prevention of bone fractures by stopping bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise, calcium supplementation and medications may have some value after diagnosis. It is difficult to rebuild bone that has been weakened, therefore prevention is very important.

Prevention Measures
Encourage bone development in children and young adults
Quit smoking
Curtail alcohol consumption
Exercise regularly / weight-bearing exercises
Consume a balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D
Speak with your doctor about medications that stop bone loss and/or increase bone strength

WNH Services
Family and internal medicine specialists
Digital diagnostic imaging (CT bone density, x-rays, etc.)
Dietetic counseling
Rehabilitation services
Surgical services
Healthways exercise programs

WNH Physicians
Health Professionals by Specialty

Resources
Medicine
Medline Plus
National Institutes of Health