From an interview with
Dr. Lisa Lanning
McLeod Family Medicine Center
Bones are living tissue. They are constantly undergoing a state of regeneration where the old tissue breaks down and is replaced with new tissue. McLeod primary care physician Dr. Lisa Lanning explains what happens when this process slows down and leads to osteoporosis.
“Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of the new tissue doesn’t keep up with the loss of the old tissue. When this happens, the bones become weak and may break from a fall. In fact, very weak bones can break spontaneously or from the normal stress of standing and walking, which can lead to a fall (fragility fracture). With osteoporosis, the bone density, which is the amount of mineral in the bone tissue, is decreased.
Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. In fact, about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. White and Asian women are at highest risk, especially older women who are post- menopausal and over age 65. The first few years after menopause, there is a rapid decrease in bone loss because of the loss of estrogen. This loss of estrogen is what puts women at a greater risk. Men with low testosterone levels are also at increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Other health factors increasing risk of osteoporosis are chronic kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroid, cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol use.
Bone breaks related to this disease are most likely to occur in the hip, spine or wrist. Hip fractures caused by a fall can result in disability. Also, osteoporosis affects the ability and quality of healing of a bone fracture due to the deterioration of the bone tissue.
Osteoporosis causes some patients to lose height. When the vertebrae or bones of the spine are affected, it often leads to a stooped or hunched posture. Anyone who has noticed a loss in height or curving of the spine should contact their healthcare professional right away. Another clue is unexplained, unprovoked back pain along the spine.
Activities that promote balance and good posture are beneficial for good bone health, such as walking, climbing stairs, playing tennis and dancing. Improving balance, coordination and muscle strength helps reduce the risk of falling and breaking a bone. Walking as little as three to five miles a week can build bone health.
Osteoporosis can be treated and reversed with appropriate medications and lifestyle changes. However, the best treatment is always prevention.”
To learn more, speak with a primary care physician near you about your risk factors for osteoporosis. Together, you can create a plan for protecting your bones.