Bone Loss Definitions
Osteopenia is a diminished amount of bone density and strength, placing a person at moderate to severe risk of fracture.
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease where the loss of normal bone density, bone mass, and bone strength places a person at moderate to severe risk of fracture.
The most utilized and accurate bone density testing method is the Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). The DEXA test uses very low dose radiation and is performed with the patient clothed and in a comfortable sitting or lying position for 5-15 minutes. Results will indicate Normal, Osteopenia or Osteoporosis of the hip and/or lumbar spine. Additional hormonal evaluation may be done through blood or urine testing. A consult may be needed to discuss your test results and follow-up recommendations.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Some risk factors for Osteoporosis include diseases treated with steroid drugs, kidney disorders, malabsorption disorders, hyperthyroidism, cancer, low testosterone levels in men or low estrogen levels in women. You are also at increased risk if you have a family history of osteoporosis. Certain lifestyle risks include decreased exercise and activity, smoking, increased alcohol intake, and inadequate calcium and protein in diet. There is a 25% incidence of a spine fracture by age 60 and a 20% incidence of hip fracture by age 80.
Reducing Fracture Risk
Home– Safety measures in home to prevent falls include adequate lighting, handrails on stairs, slip-proof strips on floor of showers and tub. Avoid throw rugs or larger rugs poorly secured, narrow passageways, small obstacles in paths inside and outside home, slippers or shoes lacking good tractions which all can cause fall hazards.
Diet– Increase intake of foods high in calcium such as dairy products, calcium fortified drinks and food. Many dark green vegetables, nuts and beans are also good calcium food sources. Supplements can be used to meet the calcium recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 1000-1500 mg calcium supplements with vitamin D are recommended to increase absorption.
Exercise– Physical exercise is important in developing and maintaining bone strength. Exercise strengthens back muscles, improves flexibility and mobility to reduce the risk of falls and bone fracture.
Treatments– There are many FDA medications for treatment of Osteoporosis. Some treatments work by decreasing bone resorption, and/or increasing bone building cells. Another drug helps with absorption of calcium. All treatment options should be discussed with a medical provider to determine the best treatment for you.