November was Osteoporosis Month
Low bone mass and decreased bone density are symptoms of osteoporosis; it is important to do what we can to boost our bone health. So, let’s start off with a few facts:
- Osteoporosis is a disease that can lead to painful fractures, and can be severely disabling. At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture.
- Osteoporosis is a disease that is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. The bone is weakened and becomes thin and porous. There is no single cause identified for osteoporosis, although there can be several risk factors.
- Osteoporosis is often called the “silent thief’ as bone loss can occur without symptoms until there is a fracture, often called a fragility fracture. Unfortunately, by the time this happens, the disease is already fairly advanced.
- Over 80% of all fractures in people over 50 are caused by Osteoporosis. The most common sites of osteoporotic fractures are the wrist, spine, shoulder, and hip.
- Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer combined.
- Hip fractures can be disabling, and can lead to a loss of independence, even a loss of life. Osteoporosis causes 70-90% of 30,000 hip fractures annually. Wrist fractures that occur with a fall are often fragility fractures.
- Fewer than 20% of fracture patients in Canada currently undergo diagnosis or adequate treatment for osteoporosis. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians needlessly fracture each year because their osteoporosis goes undiagnosed and untreated.
There is a multi-step process for osteoporosis diagnosis
A family doctor can order a bone density scan which is used to diagnose osteoporosis, measuring bone density usually at the spine and hip. A score is then used to diagnose osteoporosis and determine the risk of fragility fractures. Sometimes low bone mineral density may be picked up on an X-ray and be labeled osteopenia, which can be a precursor to osteoporosis. Anyone who has osteopenia should be followed and tested for osteoporosis.
How to treat and prevent osteoporosis
Bone health is important at any age, but especially during childhood and adolescence when bones are still growing. Most people reach their maximum bone size and strength by age 30, so it is important to optimize bone health at an early age.
An adequate Calcium intake and Vitamin D are important for bone health. Diet, medication, exercise and activity modification are all important aspects of disease management.
If diagnosed with Osteoporosis, there are ways to manage this disease and try to prevent fractures and disability. A Physical therapist can assist in managing your disease – some are trained as Bonefit experts which means they have further training in managing osteoporosis.
Book an appointment with us for more information on pain management and bone health.