May is National Osteoporosis Month, a great time to set the record straight about this debilitating and potentially deadly disease. While it’s the most common type of bone disease, misunderstanding exists about who can suffer from it and what can be done to prevent it.
Let’s start with some osteoporosis quick facts:
- A woman’s risk of bone fracture is equal to her risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined.
- A man is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is of getting prostate cancer.
- Six months after a hip fracture, only 15 percent of patients are able to walk independently across a room.
- 24 percent of patients with a hip fracture over age 50 die in the year following the fracture.
- 1⁄3 of patients who fracture a hip will fracture the other hip within 18 months if they are not treated for osteoporosis
- Fracture of a bone over the age of 50 increases the risk of another fracture
- Osteoporosis is a“silent” disease; often the first symptom is a fracture, which makes early detection and prevention very important!
Despite the enormous health impact on so many people, this condition often goes undiagnosed or untreated. Here we look at some common misconceptions for this disease.
Do only women need to worry about osteoporosis?
While women are more predisposed to getting osteoporosis than men, it is a disease commonly found in men. One in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Do only old people get osteoporosis?
Young people with certain diseases or who are taking certain medications are also at risk. Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, low testosterone, early menopause, eating disorders, and endocrine conditions like thyroid and parathyroid disease are a few of the conditions that can contribute to early osteoporosis. Medications for acid reflux, seizures, prostate and breast cancer and steroids among others can also cause osteoporosis at a younger age.
Is osteoporosis a normal part of aging?
This disease is NOT a normal part of aging! It’s a serious disease that causes broken bones, suffering, pain and life-altering, even debilitating, loss of mobility that can be treated. Sadly, nearly 80 percent of older Americans who suffer a bone break aren’t tested or treated for osteoporosis.
Can I prevent osteoporosis?
Yes, you can prevent osteoporosis, and the younger you start, the less likely you are to suffer from the disease. Eating foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking and heavy alcohol use can help prevent osteoporosis.
Can osteoporosis be treated and can fractures be prevented?
Yes, in addition to optimizing diet and exercising, treatment with osteoporosis medications can help to significantly reduce your risk of fracture. Fracture risk can be reduced by up to 73% with some medications and bone density and strength can be increased.
Do osteoporosis medications cause fractures?
Osteoporosis medications are very safe and effective when used appropriately. Your medical provider can discuss safety and efficacy with you if he/she feels you would benefit from medication for osteoporosis.
There’s no doubt about it, osteoporosis is a serious and debilitating condition. But there are things you can do now to prevent the development of this disease, or, if you have osteoporosis, you can start taking steps to reduce your risk of further fractures and bone density loss.
Talk to your provider if you feel you are at risk for osteoporosis. They may refer you to our Bone Health Clinic where we can conduct a comprehensive bone health evaluation, investigate potential causes for poor bone quality, and develop a personalized plan of care. Learn more about our Bone Health Clinic or call your provider to see if you are a referral candidate.