Osteoporosis is a chronic health condition that weakens bones, making them porous, fragile, and more susceptible to fractures. It is a progressive disease, meaning it develops and worsens slowly over time. It is one of the most common bone diseases and primarily affects older women.
In the early stages, osteoporosis doesn’t usually cause symptoms, but as it progresses, loss of height, poor posture, and pain in the neck or lower back can develop. People often don’t know they have osteoporosis until it is diagnosed following a bone fracture. The most common types of fractures related to osteoporosis occur in the wrist, hip, and spine.
The good news is that the progression of osteoporosis may be slowed down with a number of nonsurgical treatments and lifestyle changes, including nutrition supplements, dietary changes, exercise, and medications. Bone density testing for the early detection of weakening bones (osteopenia) and osteoporosis can also help prevent the occurrence of fractures (recommended for women over 50 and men over 60).
Treatments are aimed at reducing pain, slowing down the progression of the disease, and preventing fractures. Appropriate treatment will depend on factors such as age, gender, injury history, and your risk of fractures. Your orthopedic doctor will put in place a customized treatment plan for you based on these factors. This is often done in conjunction with your primary care doctor, and if required, other specialists that may also be involved in your care. The treatment plan may include:
- Nutrition recommendations and/or healthy eating plans (to include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D)
- Nutritional supplements such as calcium and vitamin D
- Exercise plan to prevent bone loss and increase bone density (such as weight-bearing exercises and frequent walks)
- Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption
- Coordinating additional care, as needed (endocrinologists, physical therapy, psychologist, nutritionists, and dieticians)
There are several different types of medications that are used to manage osteoporosis. Your doctor will be able to review the risks and benefits of the medications with you. The medications most commonly used to manage osteoporosis include:
Bisphosphonates – They help maintain bone density, reduce the risk of broken bones, and slow down the rate at which bone mass is broken down in the body. There are different bisphosphonates available (such as Alendronate), and they are usually given in tablet form or as injections.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – HRT can help keep bones strong, prevent bone loss, and reduce the risk of fractures.
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) including Raloxifene – These are medicines that have a similar effect on bone as the hormone called estrogen. They can increase and maintain bone mineral density and reduce the risk of fractures, particularly in the spine.
Calcitonin – Helps to regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the blood. The medication eases pain and slows the bone loss process.
Unfortunately, osteoporosis cannot be cured, but there are ways to slow down its progression, particularly with medication, diet, and exercise. You can also control some factors that increase your risk of developing the condition, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, eating a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight.
Osteoporosis Treatment in North Dakota
If you suspect you may have osteoporosis and need a diagnosis or would like to pursue treatment for it, contact the professionals at The Bone & Joint Center.
To schedule an appointment, please call (701) 946-7400 or (866) 900-8650, or visit our appointment request page to learn more. We look forward to serving you and helping you find relief.