Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak, thinning bones. This leaves the bones at greater risk of breaking. The bones most often affected are the hips, spine, and wrists.
The exact cause for osteoporosis is unknown. But a number of factors contribute to the disease including:
Osteoporosis affects over 10 million Americans over the age of 50. Women are 4 times more likely to get osteoporosis than men.
Another 34 million Americans older than age 50 have low bone mass (osteopenia). This group is at a greater risk for osteoporosis.
Low estrogen is one of the main causes of bone loss in women during and after menopause. Women may lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5 to 7 years after menopause.
People with osteoporosis may not get any symptoms. Some may have pain in their bones and muscles, particularly in their back. Sometimes, a collapsed vertebra may cause severe pain, decrease in height, or spinal deformity.
The symptoms of osteoporosis may look like other bone disorders or medical problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will review your personal and family medical history and do a physical exam. Other tests include:
Women are encouraged to do the following:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
The goals of managing osteoporosis are to:
Some of the ways to treat osteoporosis are also ways to prevent it. They include:
The FDA has approved these medicines to maintain bone health in women with osteoporosis at menopause:
An osteoporosis rehab program can be vital to a full recovery. It can help you obtain the best possible bone health and quality of life. The focus of rehab is to decrease pain, help prevent fractures, and minimize further bone loss.
To help reach these goals, programs may include the following:
These rehab programs can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled people are part of the team, including:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: