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Southcoast Health: Preventing & Treating Osteoporosis in Fall River & New Bedford, MA

Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for more than 44 million Americans, 68% of whom are women. In the United States today, 10 million individuals already have the disease, and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at an increased risk for osteoporosis.

At Southcoast Health, we see the need to offer our community exceptional care and treatment for osteoporosis, assisting patients in preventing bone disease and helping those who already have it live their life to the fullest. Find a doctor at one of our physician practices to learn more or sign up to attend our Joint Seminar. Call 508-973-1102 to register.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist.

Throughout our lives, our body removes old bone (resorption) and new bone is added to the skeleton (formation). Bone formation continues at a pace faster than resorption until peak bone mass is reached around age 30. After age 30, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed bone formation, making it almost impossible to build more bone than we lose.

You are at a greater risk of osteoporosis if you:

  • Are female and older than 50, but men and younger adults can also develop the disease
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis and bone fractures
  • Are short and slender
  • Smoke tobacco or drink alcohol
  • Eat a diet lacking in calcium or vitamin D
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have diabetes, thyroid imbalance, certain autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, and other medical conditions

Doctors will use a bone density test (also called a bone density scan or DXA) to diagnose osteoporosis. Possible treatment options may include medications, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and limiting alcohol, and doing certain exercises to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss.

Osteoporosis Prevention

By about age 20, the average woman has acquired 98% of her skeletal mass. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later.

There are four steps to preventing osteoporosis:

  • A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Weight-bearing exercise
  • A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake
  • Bone density testing and medication, when appropriate

Southcoast Health offers resources and treatment for patients with osteoporosis in Fall River, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Wareham, MA and surrounding areas of RI through Charlton Memorial Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Tobey Hospital and Southcoast Surgery Center.