Osteoporosis and your bone health

More than one in three older adults will accidentally fall at some point. As you grow older, you may worry that you’ll break a hip or other bone if you fall. This is especially true if you have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes your bones to become weak and thin, making them more likely to break.

The bones most commonly affected by osteoporosis are the hips, spine and wrists. Women are at greater risk for osteoporosis because of the decrease in estrogen that happens during menopause.

Risk factors for osteoporosis

There are several risk factors that make it more likely you may have or develop osteoporosis, including:

  • Age over 50 years
  • Asian or Caucasian descent
  • Certain medicines
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Family history
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Low body weight
  • Low bone mass
  • Low muscle mass
  • Menopause
  • Smoking
  • Vitamin D and calcium deficiency

Special considerations for women

Women are four times more likely than men to have osteoporosis. This is because during menopause, estrogen levels decrease and bones become weaker. Women also tend to have lower muscle mass than men, which is a risk factor.

Women who have reached menopause should be evaluated yearly for osteoporosis. Your doctor will also check to see if you are developing a rounded, humped back, called kyphosis.

Diagnostic tests for osteoporosis

You may have osteoporosis and not even know it. Some people don’t have any symptoms, while others feel pain in their bones and muscles. Your doctor will perform a physical exam to determine if you need further testing for osteoporosis. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood tests – This test is used to measure your calcium and potassium levels.
  • Bone density test – This test measures your bone mass in relation to its volume.
  • Fracture risk assessment tool (FRAX) score – This estimates your risk of having a bone fracture in the next ten years, based on the results of your medical history and bone density test.
  • X-ray – These images allow your doctor to view your tissue and bones.

Treatments and rehabilitation for osteoporosis

If you have osteoporosis, Main Line Health can help. We offer treatment plans to help decrease your pain, prevent bone breaks and minimize any further bone loss.

One of the best ways to treat osteoporosis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You can make lifestyle changes that may decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis, such as walking for exercise, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, and quitting smoking.

Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to keep your bones healthy, including estrogen replacement therapy for women who have gone through menopause. Other medicines your doctor may prescribe include:

  • Biophosphonates – This medicine helps to reduce bone loss and increase bone density.
  • Monoclonal antibody – This treatment is used for women who are taking cancer medications that might weaken the bones.
  • Parathyroid hormone – This hormone helps form bone if you are at an increased risk for bone breaks.
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) – These medicines help prevent bone loss.

Main Line Health also offers rehabilitation as part of your treatment plan, to help you return to being as active as possible. Rehabilitation may include an exercise program personalized to fit your specific needs, education, pain management techniques and assistive devices for fall prevention.

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