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Osteoporosis

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Osteoporosis Symptoms

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time.

There are no symptoms in the early stages of this bone disease.

Symptoms occurring late in this bone disease include:

  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Fractures with little or no trauma
  • Loss of height (as much as 6 inches) over time
  • Low back pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
  • Neck pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
  • Stooped posture or kyphosis, also called a "dowager's hump"

Osteoporosis Diagnosis

A bone density test (specifically a densitometry or DEXA scan) measures how much bone you have. Your health care provider uses this bone density test to predict your bone loss and risk for bone fractures in the future.

A special type of spine CT that can show loss of bone density, quantitative computed tomography (QCT) may be used in rare cases.

In severe cases, a spine or hip x-ray may show fracture or collapse of the spinal bones. However, simple X-rays of bones are not very accurate in predicting whether someone is likely to have osteoporosis.

You may need other blood and urine tests if your osteoporosis is thought to be due to a medical condition, rather than simply the usual bone loss seen with older age.

Call (847) 758-1230 today for an appointment and consultation with our physician.

Osteoporosis Treatment

The goals of osteoporosis bone disease treatment are to:
  • Control bone pain from the disease
  • Slow down or stop bone loss
  • Prevent bone fractures with medicines that strengthen bone
  • Minimize the risk of falls that might cause fractures
There are several different treatments for osteoporosis, including lifestyle changes and a variety of medications.

Medications are used to strengthen bones when:

  • Osteoporosis has been diagnosed by a bone density test.
  • Osteopenia (thin bones due to bone loss, but not osteoporosis) has been diagnosed by a bone density test, if a bone fracture has occurred.
BISPHOSPHONATES
Bisphosphonates are the primary drugs used to both prevent and treat osteoporosis bone disease in postmenopausal women.

Bisphosphonates taken by mouth include alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), and risedronate (Actonel). Most are taken by mouth, usually once a week or once a month. Bisphosphonates given through a vein (intravenously) are taken less often.

CALCITONIN
Calcitonin is a medicine that slows the rate of bone loss and relieves bone pain. It comes as a nasal spray or injection. The main side effects are nasal irritation from the spray form and nausea from the injectable form.

Calcitonin appears to be less effective than bisphosphonates.

HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Estrogens or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is rarely used anymore to prevent osteoporosis, and are not approved to treat a woman who has already been diagnosed with the condition.

Sometimes, if estrogen has helped a woman, and she cannot take other options for preventing or treating bone disease, the doctor may recommend that she continue using hormone therapy. If you are considering taking hormone therapy to prevent osteoporosis, discuss the risks with your doctor.

PARATHYROID HORMONE
Teriparatide (Forteo) is approved for the treatment of postmenopausal women who have severe osteoporosis and are considered at high risk for fractures. The medicine is given through daily shots underneath the skin. You can give yourself the shots at home.

RALOXIFENE
Raloxifene (Evista) is used for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Raloxifene is similar to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Raloxifene can reduce the risk of spinal fractures by almost 50%. However, it does not appear to prevent other fractures, including those in the hip. It may have protective effects against heart disease and breast cancer, though more studies are needed.

The most serious side effect of raloxifene is a very small risk of blood clots in the leg veins (deep venous thrombosis) or in the lungs (pulmonary embolus).

EXERCISE
Regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of bone fractures in people with osteoporosis. Some of the recommended exercises include:
  • Weight-bearing exercises -- walking, jogging, playing tennis, dancing
  • Resistance exercises -- free weights, weight machines, stretch bands
  • Balance exercises -- tai chi, yoga
  • Riding a stationary bicycle
  • Using rowing machines

Avoid any exercise that presents a risk of falling, or high-impact exercises that may cause fractures.

DIET
Get at least 1,200 milligrams per day of calcium, and 800 - 1,000 international units of vitamin D3. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.Your doctor may recommend a supplement to give you the calcium and vitamin D you need to prevent bone loss.

Follow a diet that provides the proper amount of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. While this will not completely stop bone loss, it will guarantee that a supply of the materials the body uses to form and maintain bones is available.

High-calcium foods include:

  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and collard greens
  • Low-fat milk
  • Salmon
  • Sardines (with the bones)
  • Tofu
  • Yogurt

STOP UNHEALTHY HABITS
Quit smoking, if you smoke. Also limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can damage your bones, as well as put you at risk for falling and breaking a bone.

PREVENT FALLS
It is critical to prevent falls. Avoid sedating medications and remove household hazards to reduce the risk of fractures. Make sure your vision is good. Other ways to prevent falling include:

Avoiding walking alone on icy days Using bars in the bathtub, when needed Wearing well-fitting shoes

MONITORING
Your response to treatment can be monitored with a series of bone density tests taken every 1 - 2 years.

Women taking estrogen should have routine mammograms, pelvic exams, and Pap smears.

RELATED SURGERIES
There are no surgeries for treating osteoporosis itself. However, a procedure called vertebroplasty can be used to treat any small fractures in your spinal column due to osteoporosis. It can also help prevent weak vertebra from becoming fractured by strengthening the bones in your spinal column.

The procedure involves injecting a fast-hardening glue into the areas that are fractured or weak. A similar procedure, called kyphoplasty, uses balloons to widen the spaces that need the glue. (The balloons are removed during the procedure.)

Adapted from Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health