• SeniorNews

Osteoporosis—What is your risk and What do you need to know

by Orthopaedic Associates of Wausau

Did you Know?

• A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined

• And a man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.

Millions of Americans – 54 million to be exact – have low bone density or osteoporosis. In fact, about 50% of women and 25% of men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a silent disease that causes bones to become weak and break more easily. People do not feel their bones weakening. For some individuals breaking a bone is the first sign that they have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone”- when we look at the bone under a microscope it has a honeycomb appearance. In people with osteoporosis the bones have bigger holes and spaces in the honeycomb structure than those with healthy bone. This means that your bones have lost density or mass.

Some people think of bone as hard and lifeless. The truth is that your bones are actually living, growing tissue. Throughout life you constantly lose old bone at the same time you make new bone. Osteoporosis happens when you lose too much old bone, form too little new bone or both.

Osteoporosis is Serious! Osteoporosis may affect lifestyle by making it more difficult to get around and to do the things you enjoy. It can cause height loss or hunched posture as the bones of the spine break or collapse. The most common complication is a broken bone—especially in the wrist, spine or hip. The result may be persistent pain, loss of independence or--in severe cases—death due to complications of the break or surgery to fix it.

There are a variety of factors - both controllable and uncontrollable - that put you at risk for developing osteoporosis. Things you cannot control include: being over 50, being female, being menopausal, having a family history of osteoporosis, and having a small, thin frame. The things we can control are the things we focus on with treatment… such as getting enough Vitamin D and Calcium, diet, weight-bearing exercise, weight management, avoiding tobacco use and management of medications and disease processes.

The first step in diagnosing and treating osteoporosis is to talk to your health care professional. They will look at a complete medical history, do an exam and may order some tests. Specifically, a bone density test and some laboratory tests will be done to assess your bone health at this time and assess any disease processes that may increase your risk.

Osteoporosis (and the broken bones it can cause) are not part of normal aging! There is a lot you can do to protect your bones throughout your life. You’re never too young or too old to improve your bone health. Regardless of your age, the habits you adopt now can affect your bone health for the rest of your life so start today!

Call Orthopaedic Associates of Wausau today at 715-847-2382 for your osteoporosis screening and set up your evaluation to prevent future fractures and for overall improvement to your bone health!

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