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Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment in MA & RI

Osteoporosis, which makes the bones brittle and weak, can have a major impact on a person’s daily life. This condition affects more than 44 million Americans, with 68% of them being women. In the United States today, there are 10 million people with the disease, with another 34 million believed to have low bone mass, a strong risk factor for osteoporosis.

At Southcoast Health, we recognize the need to deliver exceptional osteoporosis care and treatment. We work with patients who already have bone loss, and also work to prevent bone disease from occurring.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, the medical term for porous bone, is a disease caused by low bone mass as well as the deterioration of bone tissue. For those living with osteoporosis, new bone creation can’t keep up with the removal of worn-out bone. This leads to fragile bones and susceptibility to spine, hip, and wrist fractures.

Your body routinely resorbs old bone and adds new bone in a process called formation. Bone formation exceeds resorption until about age 30 when you reach your peak bone mass. From this point forward, bone resorption begins to exceed the formation of new bone, which makes it impossible to rebuild bone mass that has been lost.

Am I at Risk for Osteoporosis?

The following groups are particularly prone to osteoporosis:

  • Women aged 50 and up
  • Those with a family history of osteoporosis
  • Short and slender people
  • Smokers and alcohol drinkers
  • Those who don’t consume enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Those who are physically inactive
  • Those with a thyroid imbalance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease

Hormone Imbalances and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is more prevalent for those with too little or too much of certain hormones, such as:

  • Sex hormones
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Overactive adrenal and parathyroid glands

Diet and Osteoporosis

Likelihood of developing osteoporosis can also be impacted by a person’s diet:

  • Low calcium intake increases the likelihood of insufficient bone density, an increased risk of fractures, and early bone loss.
  • Eating disorders – restricting food intake leads to malnutrition, which weakens the bones.
  • Gastrointestinal surgery to reduce your stomach or intestine limits your body’s ability to absorb calcium and other nutrients.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Early stage osteoporosis has no symptoms. However, once your bones are weakened by osteoporosis, the following symptoms typically occur:

  • Back pain due to collapsed or fractured vertebra
  • Loss of height and stooped posture
  • A bone fracture that occurs too easily

When Do You Need to See a Doctor about Osteoporosis?

If you believe you may be at risk for osteoporosis or have begun showing symptoms, a visit with a Southcoast Health medical professional can give you more clarity about your health and the proper steps to take. It is important to mention to your doctor if you went through menopause early or have used corticosteroids for an extended period. If either of your parents had hip fractures, mention that to your doctor as well.

Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment

By age 20, most women have developed 98% of their skeletal mass. That’s why it’s so critical to build strong, healthy bones during childhood and adolescence. This is the best prevention technique against osteoporosis. Follow these steps to reduce your risk of osteoporosis at any point in your life:

  • Fill your diet with lots of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Perform weight-bearing exercise to strengthen your bones.
  • Undergo bone density testing and take any medication prescribed to prevent or treat osteoporosis.

Doctors test for osteoporosis using a bone density test, also called a DEXA. Treatment options include eating healthy foods, refraining from drinking and smoking, and performing exercises that reduce bone loss.

Fracture Liaison Service (FLS)

The Fracture Liaison Service is a program that evaluates done health to prevent secondary fractures, assess osteoporosis/osteopenia and risk for future fractures. Due to concerns for compromised bone quality and risk of future fractures patients are appropriately identified and referred for further investigation and treatment recommendations for improved bone strength and reduction of future fracture. A fragility fracture is considered a ground-level trauma fall resulting in fracture or an atraumatic onset of fracture.

Who should be referred?

  • Post-menopausal women with a history of fragility fracture.
  • Atraumatic onset of fracture.
  • Men with a history of fragility fracture, especially 70 years or older.
  • Patients on chronic steroids.
  • Intraoperative findings of poor bone quality, specifically if they have not fractured. This can prevent fractures which can alter/impact patient quality of life and decrease healthcare costs.
  • Anyone that a healthcare provider feels that the patient may be at risk.

A comprehensive and thorough assessment of their medical and surgical history is taken. This assessment includes a questionnaire, lab testing that is specific to bone health and a bone density scan. Medications that affect bone health are reviewed. Bone density is evaluated. Lifestyle is reviewed and lastly, level of physical activity.

A comprehensive plan is then developed and personalized to each individual patient. Recommendations for lifestyle changes need to be realistic and meet the needs of each patient. Proper supplementation, diet high in calcium, physical activity through exercise and lastly, medication if needed.

The Fracture Liaison will discuss what osteoporosis is, the long terms effects of osteoporosis and factors affecting osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a chronic medical condition. Patients learn about their role in bone health, what causes poor bone health and how it can be managed. Our goal is to prevent future fractures and to increase patient’s bone density and bone quality.

Osteoporosis Prevention and Care at Southcoast Health

Don’t let osteoporosis limit you- come see us at Southcoast Health for prevention and treatment for osteoporosis. Our doctors will take time to educate you about this condition, whether you are at risk of developing it or are experiencing its symptoms. Southcoast Health is proud to offer treatment for osteoporosis in Dartmouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Wareham, MA and RI through Charlton Memorial Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Tobey Hospital, and Southcoast Surgery Center. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, please contact us today.