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A Beginners Guide to Osteoporosis

By Pam Flores

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.”  As we age our bone becomes more porous resulting in a loss of bone structure which can lead to fracture.  Osteoporosis occurs when the body removes more bone than it replaces during the remodeling process.

Testing for Osteoporosis:

There are several different types of bone mineral density (BMD) scans or ultra sounds that are used for diagnosis and pre-screening purposes.

DXA/DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) is the gold standard for measuring bone mass.  This test will measure the amount of bone you have in your hip and spine. When a central DXA can’t be used on the hip or spine a peripheral DXA will measure the radius, the bone between the wrist and elbow. Early testing can help to prevent or treat bone loss.

QCT (quantitative computed tomography): This CT scan measures the density of the spine and can be used if the patient has titanium implants in the spine or other health conditions that will alter a DXA score.

Screening Tests:  You’ll usually see these types of test at health fairs and they are used to measure the wrist, heal or finger with a type of ultra sound. 

Testing Results: What the Numbers Mean

T-SCORES
Scores of -1.0 and above indicate normal bone density
Scores between -1.0 and -2.5 indicate Osteopenia (low bone density)
Score of -2.5 and below indicate Osteoporosis

These conditions can make your bone look denser:
•    broken bones
•    osteoarthritis
•    scoliosis
•    certain surgical spine procedures e.g. spinal fusions
•    spine and hip implants (titanium rods/plates, and screws)

Doctors That Treat Osteoporosis

Internist (Internal Medicine):  An internist treats all internal organ conditions of the body.

OB-GYN:  Doctors that treat disorders involving the reproductive organs, hormone treatments, childbirth, menopause and hormone deficient disorders like osteoporosis.

Endocrinologist:  These doctors treat the endocrine system of the body - the system that handles the excretion of hormones that can affect the thyroid, parathyroid and metabolism, all of which can cause and effect osteoporosis. 

Rheumatologist:  These doctors treat rheumatic disorders involving the joint/bone and cartilage, arthritis, autoimmune disorders and osteoporosis.

Orthopedics:  Orthopedics treat bone, joint, and cartilage disorders. They also surgically repair bone loss and injuries in these areas.
 
Geriatrician:  Medical specialty that deals with the diseases associated with aging.

Supplement Recommendations for Osteoporosis:
Calcium: According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) men and women over 50 should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day in divided doses of no more than 500 milligram per serving. For those under 50 the recommendation is 1,000 milligrams of calcium. 10 Ways to Add Calcium to Your Diet

Vitamin D: The NOF recommends 800 - 1,000 International Units of vitamin D a day. For those under 50 the recommendation is 400 - 800 International Units of vitamin D.  The Importance of Vitamin D for Good Bone Health


Recommendations for Weight Bearing and Muscle-Strengthening Exercises:
The NOF recommends doing 2 ½ hours of exercise each week if not more.

Dancing, walking, hiking, jogging, low impact aerobics and elliptical training are good examples of weight bearing exercise.

Lifting weights, lifting your own body weight, weight machines, Pilates, and yoga are excellent ways to get muscle-strengthening exercises.

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