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Back Pain and Spine Physicians in Colorado
Telephone: (303) 762-0808
Fax: (303) 762-9292
1-866-971-7940
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Explaining Spinal Disorders: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects more than 44 million Americans. Women are four times more likely than men to develop this metabolic bone disease. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that by the year 2025 the costs associated with osteoporosis will approach $25 billion.

Osteoporosis is also called fragile bone disease and is characterized by loss of bone density. Less bone density causes bones to become weak and increases the risk for fracture. Any bone in the body may fracture, although the hips, vertebral bodies, and wrists are common fracture sites related to osteoporosis. Left unchecked and untreated, osteoporosis can progress to cause physical deformity and loss of stature.


Normal bone (left) - Osteoporotic bone (right)

Risk Factors
You can’t feel your bones growing weaker and may not know you have osteoporosis until a fracture occurs. Although you cannot change your gender or race, many aspects of life are controllable. Considering that osteoporosis is usually preventable, take steps now to discuss your risks with your doctor.

Risks You Can’t Control

  • Gender
  • Growing older
  • Family history of osteoporosis or fractures
  • Small-boned and thin Race (Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic)

Risk Control

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Adequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D
  • Hormones; medication to control estrogen and/or testosterone levels
  • Regular weight-bearing exercise, stay physically active
  • No smoking (or tobacco use)
  • Moderate use of alcohol

Drugs and Disorders That Increase Risk

  • Steroids (corticosteroids)
  • Certain anticonvulsant drugs
  • Eating disorders
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Diagnosis
Our comprehensive diagnostic process includes:

  • Medical history. Your doctor talks to you about your family history, prior fractures (if any), current symptoms, and lifestyle.

  • Physical examination. You are carefully examined for movement limitations, balance problems, and pain. During the exam, the doctor evaluates loss of extremity reflexes, muscle weakness, loss of sensation, or other signs of a neurological problem.

  • Diagnostic test. A DXA scan, or Dual X-ray Absorptiometry, is a fast and painless test performed to measure bone density - the strength of your bones. Not only can the test diagnose osteoporosis, but is used to detect early stage bone loss (osteopenia). A DXA scan, also called bone densitometry, may be repeated to measure the success of treatment to prevent osteoporosis.

Treatment
Depending on the outcome of your DXA scan, your doctor may prescribe medication to either prevent or treat osteoporosis. The type of medication depends on many things including your gender, age, fracture risk, and status of your osteoporosis.

Your doctor will provide advice about the calcium and Vitamin D supplementation, eating calcium-rich foods, weight-bearing exercise, and lifestyle choices.

Conclusion
It’s never too early or late to adopt healthy habits to keep your bones strong. Our staff cares about your health and can help you either prevent osteoporosis, or control its progression.

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By using this website, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to the terms of our legal disclaimer. The information provided is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. For additional health information, please contact our office.