Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease

What does osteoporosis mean?

photo-blog-osteoporosis-book-coverOsteopertains to the bones, and porous literally means holes, so osteoporosis mean holes in the bones.  The holes in your bones mean that your bones have lost density or mass, and the bone tissue has become abnormal.  Bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt, but in osteoporosis, there is an imbalance between building new bone, and bone loss, or both.  This imbalance results in a thinning of the bones which become more fragile and can easily lead to fractures.  

Did you know osteoporosis affects both men and women?

Until recently, osteoporosis was considered a post-menopausal woman’s disease.  After menopause woman’s estrogen levels decreases which causes the decrease in bone density usually after age 50.  Now that men are living longer osteoporosis is affecting those men from 60-75 years old.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF),men older than 50 are more likely to break a bone from osteoporosis than get prostate cancer. Low testosterone is a major risk factor for the development of osteoporosis in men.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation  in June 2014, “released updated prevalence data estimating that a total of 54 million U.S. adults, representing more than one-half of the total U.S. adult population, is currently affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass.

Recently published online by the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the study reveals that 10.2 million adults have osteoporosis and another 43.4 million have low bone mass.”

What are the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?

The risk factor for both men and women are similar.  Besides aging, these risk factors include a family history, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, taking steroid medication, lack of estrogen in women and testosterone in men.

Why osteoporosis is called the silent disease?

People who have osteoporosis cannot feel that their bones are getting weaker.  They may notice that they are getting shorter or losing height, and that their spine is curing forward.  These signs indicate the disease is fairly advanced.  Breaking a bone is often the first sign that they have osteoporosis. According to the NOF, osteoporosis leads to 2 million broken bones and $19 billion in health-related costs.   

Are there tests to diagnose osteoporosis?

Yes a bone density test, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA scan should be done on woman around the time of menopause, and every 5 years thereafter.  Men should have the same test done after age 60.  The DXA scan looks at bone density of the wrist, hip, and spine to determine the bone density.

What is the treatment for Osteoporosis?


The key to treating this disease is prevention and identifying high risk people before fractures occur.  Start building strong bones while you are still young because bone strength photo-blog-osteoporosis-wellness-dr-guidepeaks in the 20’s.  Exercise that forces your bones to work against gravity, resistance workouts, or weight bearing exercise can increase bone density.

A healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for good bone health.  Calcium is found in dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, and supplements.  Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption.  Salmon is a bone health powerhouse because it is rich in Vitamin D, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids.  A recent trend in processing canned salmon is to advertise on the can label, “bones and skin removed.” This is doing to fish what was done to whole grains in making white flour, removing the nutritious ingredients.   Be sure NOT to use this type of canned salmon, because in removing these ingredients they have removed the calcium and fiber occurring naturally in the salmon.

Assessment and testing done by your physician will determine whether you need to be prescribed medication for treatment of osteoporosis.  There are multiple medications available for both men and woman that most insurance carriers will cover. 


Want to find out more?


National Osteoporosis Foundation
Just for Men

Male Osteoporosis: Are You at Risk?

National Osteoporosis Foundation
54 Million Americans Affected by Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass

National Osteoporosis Foundation
What is Osteoporosis?

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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