Breaking a bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis. Approximately one in two women, and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bone to become brittle and weak, which allows them to fracture with relatively low impact. We typically refer to an osteoporotic fracture as a fragility fracture.
There are no clear physical signs of osteoporosis and you won’t feel your bones weakening. This is why it is referred to as a silent disease. Since Osteoporosis is a disease that can be prevented and treated, an early diagnosis can make a difference.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed? In the absence of a fragility fracture, a DEXA scan is the only test to diagnose osteoporosis. Guidelines for ordering DEXA scans vary from organization to organization, but in general postmenopausal women with risk factors for osteoporosis, and any woman over age 65 should obtain a DEXA scan. Recommendations for men rely on risk factors from age 50 to 69, or any man over age 70. Talking with your healthcare provider can help determine your risk factors for osteoporosis, as well as your risk for falls and fractures.
Osteoporotic treatment doesn’t have to wait until you break a bone. Even one fracture is too many. Fracture prevention is a large reason why we treat low bone density (osteopenia and osteoporosis). So, don’t wait until you break a bone to get treated. Be proactive with your bone health. It is never too late to take steps to protect your bones and prevent fractures.
Holly Scott is a Nurse Practitioner with Alabama Bone and Joint Clinic. She is certified by the National Osteoporosis Foundation as a Fracture Liaison Service Coordinator. For more information on osteoporosis, fracture prevention and how our office can help, visit our website at www.alabamaboneandjoint.com or contact us at 205-621-3778.
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