Prevention and Wellness

Osteoporosis

Premier Physician Network’s doctors answer Frequently Asked Questions about Osteoporosis.

Answers to Common Osteoporosis Questions

What is Osteoporosis and how Can it Affect my Body?

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak and fragile, making them more likely to break – especially those in your hip, wrist and spine.

If you look at your bones under a microscope, healthy bones look like honeycomb, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). If you have osteoporosis, your bones have holes and spaces in the honeycomb that are much bigger than in healthy bones.

About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, according to the NOF. And about 34 million more are at risk of getting it.

To learn more about osteoporosis and how it can affect you, talk with your doctor.

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What are Some Warning Signs of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because there are no warning signs, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

If you haven’t been screened for osteoporosis, you many not know you have it until you have a serious bump or a fall that causes a bone break or fracture, according to the NIH.

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:

  • Family history
  • Not exercising
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in excess
  • Taking steroid medicines
  • Low testosterone levels

A screening test for osteoporosis should be done for:

  • Postmenopausal women under 65 with one or more risk factor
  • All women 65 and older
  • Postmenopausal women with fractures
  • Women considering treatment for osteoporosis
  • Women who have been on hormone therapy for a long time
  • Men and women taking medicines with side effects that could cause osteoporosis

Ask your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis and if you should be screened.

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Can Other Conditions, Such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Affect Osteoporosis?

There is a link between osteoporosis and other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may treat it with medicines that can trigger bone loss. Your pain and stiffness may also keep you from exercising, according to the NIH.

Bone loss associated with rheumatoid arthritis is usually seen in areas near the affected joints, according to the NIH.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions can affect osteoporosis.

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Does Osteoporosis Affect Men?

Osteoporosis is more common in women but men can develop the disease, too.

About one in four men older than 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

Risk factors of osteoporosis for women and men include:

  • Family history
  • Not exercising
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in excess
  • Taking steroid medicines
  • Low testosterone levels

Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re 50 or older and have a broken bone, ask your doctor about getting a bone density test to find out if you might have osteoporosis.

Talk to your doctor, too, for more information on osteoporosis in men.

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How Can I Prevent or Delay Osteoporosis?

You may help prevent osteoporosis or strengthen your bones by following these tips from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Don't drink alcohol in excess
  • Don’t smoke
  • Be physically active
  • Avoid (if possible) medicines that cause bone loss
  • Meet your daily calcium and vitamin D needs for your age
  • Eat a healthy diet

Talk to your doctor about your calcium and vitamin D needs, medicines you’re taking that may cause bone loss and more steps you can take to help prevent or delay osteoporosis.

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Source: Jon Ryan, MD, North Dayton Rheumatology; Dori Thompson, MD, Springboro Family Medicine

Content Updated: April 24, 2019

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