Osteoporosis Awareness

May 18, 2017

osteoporosisOsteoporosis is a loss of bone density that can occur as we age. It is responsible for over a million broken bones each year and is a major cause of fractures, back pain, spinal problems and loss of independence. Ten million Americans are living with osteoporosis today, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that by the year 2020 one in two Americans over age 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis. With the aging of the baby boomers, awareness of the disease becomes ever more important. Yet many people, even seniors who are at high risk for osteoporosis, are unaware of the dangers of the disease and their own risk factors. Osteoporosis is sometimes called “the silent disease.” As it develops, it is often painless, with no obvious symptoms. In many cases, a fracture is the first symptom!

WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?

Osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.

WHAT CAUSES OSTEOPOROSIS?

Our bones are living tissue and constantly changing. From the moment of birth until young adulthood, bones are developing and strengthening. Our bones are at their most dense in our early 20s – called peak bone mass. See more detailed information about Bone Biology.

As we age some of our bone cells begin to dissolve bone matrix (resorption), while new bone cells deposit osteoid (formation). This process is known as remodeling.

For people with osteoporosis, bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone. Bones become porous, brittle and prone to fracture. For more detailed information see Pathophysiology: Biological Causes of Osteoporosis.

FRAGILITY FRACTURES

Around the world, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer a fragility fracture during their lifetime. In fact, a fragility fracture is estimated to occur every 3 seconds. The most common fractures associated with osteoporosis occur at the hip, spine and wrist. The likelihood of these fractures occurring, particularly at the hip and spine, increases with age in both women and men.

Of particular concern are vertebral (spinal) and hip fractures. Vertebral fractures can result in serious consequences, including loss of height, intense back pain and deformity (sometimes called Dowager’s Hump). A hip fracture often requires surgery and may result in loss of independence or death.

PREVENTION, DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

The good news is there are many steps that can be taken to prevent and diagnosis osteoporosis. It’s now a largely treatable condition and, with a combination of lifestyle changes and appropriate medical treatment, many fractures can be avoided. You can learn more at Capturethefracture.org

If you break a bone, it is very important that you get the right medical care, treatment and follow-up to make sure you don’t break any more bones. Your healthcare provider may refer you to one of our specialists to help you reduce the risk of suffering from another broken bone.