Medically Reviewed by W. Brad Campbell, MD
Can you name the first symptom of osteoporosis? Unfortunately, most people suffering from this disease of the bones don’t know they have it until there’s a fall, breaking a hip, arm, wrist or spine.
“Bones are not hard and lifeless. Much like our skin and hair, bones grow over the years,” says McLeod Gynecologist Brad Campbell, MD. “Bone gains the most mass during a person’s teens and 20’s. As people age, less and less mass is added to the bones. When the body needs calcium, it draws it from our bones. If this calcium is not replaced, bones weaken and osteoporosis results.”
WHO GETS OSTEOPOROSIS
This bone disease affects all ethnic groups (although more commonly whites and Asians), as well as men and women. One in two women over age 50 and one in six men will incur a fracture related to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis fractures are painful, take a long time to heal and limit a person’s mobility and activity. So, preventing bone loss plays an important, ongoing role in life.
PREVENTING/TREATING BONE LOSS
Some relatively easy diet guidelines and exercise embody the easiest way to prevent losing bone mass. (And you’re never too old to start.)
DIAGNOSING THE PROBLEM
A special X-ray – called a DEXA – offers a painless, quick method to tell if a woman’s bones put her in danger of experiencing osteoporosis. Most Gynecologists offer the DEXA test in their offices, which can be part of a woman’s annual exam. If the DEXA score indicates a progression toward bone thinning, the Gynecologist may develop a FRAX score. It incorporates information on family history of hip fracture, age, smoking, steroid use and arthritis to estimate your 10-year risk of a fracture.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Ask your Gynecologist to conduct the DEXA Bone Density. This is especially important for women:
Sources include: McLeod Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, American College of Rheumatology, Harvard Health Publications, National Institutes of Health, National Osteoporosis Foundation