Osteoporosis Awareness

Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bone and decrease in bone density which occurs over time and results in weakened bones. The National Library of Medicine states that 1 in 5 women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis and about half of all women over 50 will develop a fracture in their hip, wrist or vertebrae (the bones in the spine).

Some common causes of osteoporosis can include: a drop in estrogen levels for women or testosterone for men, bed confinement, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, some eating disorders, taking corticosteroids such as prednisone or methylprednisolone on a daily basis for more than three months, hyperparathyroidism, or vitamin D deficiency.

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis:

    • Age > 70 (for men)
    • History of hormone treatment for prostate cancer (for men)
    • Age > 50 (for women)
    • History of hormone treatment for breast cancer               (for women)     
    • Family history of osteoporosis
    • Low body weight
    • Smoking
    • Low calcium in diet

Possible symptoms of osteoporosis:

    • bone pain or tenderness
    • bone fractures
    • loss of height
    • lower back pain
    • neck pain
    • stooped posture

How can I find out if I have osteoporosis?

A DEXA scan can be used to check bone mineral density and is used to determine your risk of osteoporosis. If you are a male over the age of 70 or a female over the age of 65, then you should ask your doctor about having a DEXA scan performed. Males between the aged 50 to 70, and females under the age of 65 should consider having a DEXA scan performed if they have any of the risk factors listed above.


Facts and Myths about DEXA scan:

Myth: Im too young to worry about osteoporosis

Fact: Regular weight bearing exercise, adequate diet, avoiding smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol are all important parts of osteoporosis prevention which should can be started in youth to prevent fractures later on in life.

Myth: Osteoporosis is a natural part of aging.

Fact: Studies have shown that not all people develop osteoporosis. Proper calcium intake and exercise can promote good bone health and prevent osteoporosis.

Myth:  Men do not suffer from osteoporosis.

Fact: Studies have shown that one in five men are affected by osteoporosis. It has been estimated that the risk of men, over the age of 50, developing a fracture because of osteoporosis is comparable to their risk of developing prostate  cancer which is about 1 in 3. 

Myth: DEXA Scan can be painful.

Fact: While you may have to sit or lie still while the DEXA scan is being performed, there isnt any pain associated with the test.

Myth: DEXA scans use harmful x-rays

Fact: The scan does involve the use of low dose X-rays, but the dose is only about 10% of the typical dose used for a chest x-ray.


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