Osteoporosis & Bone Health

Kirby Medical Center Orthopedics

Women’s bones keep growing until around age 20. They remain at this optimum condition for roughly 15 years before age starts to weaken them. Once a woman is post-menopausal (not had a period for 1 year), she will be at a higher risk of the bone disease osteoporosis due to the loss of hormones.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which tiny holes manifest in the bones, making them porous and brittle. It can manifest in both men and women, but is more common in the latter. There are no obvious symptoms of the condition until you break a bone. After an accident, a doctor may recognize osteoporosis and start a treatment plan. Treating this disease as soon as it is discovered is extremely important as you could end up breaking a hip or joint, which usually requires surgery to repair.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

There are numerous factors that will put you at risk for Osteoporosis. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to weak bones, and one of the biggest risk factors is smoking, especially if you smoked before age 20. Smoking inhibits the production of osteoblasts which is what builds your bones. If you smoked before age 20, your bones may already be weaker than normal even before menopause or other risk factors. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to break a bone from Osteoporosis than non-smokers.

Certain medications can also weaken your bones quicker than normal Ask your doctor if the medication you are taking affects your bones.

The following medications could weaken your bones:

  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Thyroid drugs
  • Acid reducers
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-seizure medication
  • Blood thinners
  • Steroids
  • Transplant medicines
  • Synthetic retinoids

Fighting Bone Disease

You can fight osteoporosis before you break a done. Ask your doctor about bone density scans. A bone density scan can tell you what the strength of your bones is in comparison to normal bones at your age, weight, and height. Most insurance companies will pay for a bone density scan every two years if you are post-menopausal, or if you meet other risk factors. The same is true for Medicare.

Once you have a bone density scan, if you are diagnosed with either Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, your doctor may prescribe some medication for you. This medication is designed to help your bones maintain their strength. Some medicines even claim to re-build your bones. Be sure to consult with your doctor about medications to confirm they are right for you.

If you do not meet any of the risk factors now, you will still want to take care of your bones. Calcium with vitamin D helps maintain your bone strength. Also, weight-bearing exercise such as walking and stair climbing will keep your bones strong.

For more information on bone health, visit our orthopedics department and check out www.nof.org.