Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone density and an increase in bone fragility, leading to a higher risk of fractures. It commonly affects older adults, particularly postmenopausal women, but can also occur in men and younger individuals.

Common Symptoms

Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because it typically progresses without noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs. Common symptoms include:

  • Bone Fractures: Especially in the hip, spine, and wrist, often occurring with minimal trauma.
  • Loss of Height: Due to compression fractures in the spine.
  • Back Pain: Resulting from fractured or collapsed vertebrae.
  • Stooped Posture: Also known as kyphosis or a dowager’s hump, resulting from spinal fractures.

Cause & Anatomy

  • Age: Bone density decreases with age.
  • Hormonal Changes: Reduced levels of estrogen in women post-menopause and lower testosterone levels in men.
  • Genetics: Family history of osteoporosis.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Low calcium and vitamin D intake.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Medical Conditions and Medications: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and medications like corticosteroids, can affect bone health.

Risk Factors

  • Gender: Women are at higher risk, particularly post-menopause.
  • Age: Risk increases with age.
  • Family History: Genetic predisposition.
  • Body Frame Size: Smaller, thinner individuals have a higher risk.
  • Dietary Factors: Low calcium and vitamin D intake.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol use, and physical inactivity.
  • Medical Conditions: Hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal diseases that affect nutrient absorption.
  • Medications: Long-term use of corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, and other medications that affect bone health.

Diagnosis

Bone Density Test (DEXA Scan):

  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan measures bone mineral density (BMD).

Medical History and Physical Examination:

  • Assessment of risk factors, family history, and previous fractures.

Laboratory Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests to identify underlying conditions that may contribute to bone loss.

Prevention

Diet:

  • Ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D through diet and supplements if necessary.

Exercise:

  • Engage in weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises to maintain bone density.

Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Fall Prevention:

  • Make home safety improvements to reduce the risk of falls.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Medications

  • Bisphosphonates: Alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), ibandronate (Boniva), and zoledronic acid (Reclast) are common medications that slow bone loss and increase bone density.
  • Hormone Therapy: Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for postmenopausal women, though it is less commonly used due to potential side effects.
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs): Raloxifene (Evista) mimics estrogen’s bone-preserving effects without some of the risks associated with hormone therapy.
  • Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) Analogues: Teriparatide (Forteo) and abaloparatide (Tymlos) stimulate new bone growth.
  • RANK Ligand (RANKL) Inhibitors: Denosumab (Prolia) reduces bone resorption and increases bone density.
  • Other Medications: Calcitonin (Miacalcin) and romosozumab (Evenity) may be used in specific cases.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

  • Nutrition: Ensure a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, including weight-bearing and resistance exercises.
  • Fall Prevention: Improve home safety, use assistive devices if necessary, and wear supportive footwear.

Rehabilitation

  • Physical Therapy: To improve balance, strength, and flexibility, reducing the risk of falls and fractures.
  • Occupational Therapy: To adapt daily activities and home environment for safety.

FAQ’s

How is osteoporosis different from osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a condition characterized by lower-than-normal bone density that is not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. It is often considered a precursor to osteoporosis.

Can osteoporosis be reversed?
While osteoporosis cannot be completely reversed, treatments can help slow bone loss, increase bone density, and reduce the risk of fractures.

How much calcium and vitamin D do I need?
Adults generally need about 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium and 600-800 IU of vitamin D daily. Consult with a healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.

Are there any side effects of osteoporosis medications?
Common side effects vary by medication but may include gastrointestinal issues, musculoskeletal pain, and, in rare cases, jaw problems or atypical fractures. Discuss potential side effects with your doctor.

Can men develop osteoporosis?
Yes, men can develop osteoporosis, especially those with risk factors such as age, low testosterone levels, and certain medical conditions or medications.

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