Throughout our lives, bone is continually absorbed and removed while new bone is rebuilt. Before age 30, bone strength remains stable as bone loss is equivalent to bone growth.
After age 30, especially in women during and after menopause, bones change dramatically—the pace of bone absorption and removal becomes faster than the rate at which bone is restored. This pattern of rapid bone loss is known as osteoporosis. If bone loss continues, bones become weak and can easily fracture. Significant bone deficiency also can lead to loss of height.
Taking steps to preserve stable bones is important, particularly as we age and begin to lose strength. It is important to be aware of any risk factors for osteoporosis that apply to you, including
- Sex: females are at greater risk for the disease than males
- Family history: if you have relatives with the disease, your risk increases
- Race: Caucasian and Asian women have a greater chance of developing the condition than other ethnicities
- A low-calcium diet
- A small, thin frame/body weight less than 127 lbs.
- Advanced age
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Certain medications, such as steroids or anticonvulsants
- Early menopause
- Eating disorders
- History of bone fracture/recurrent falls
- Lack of exercise
- Poor health/fragility
- Loss of height
- Women who have had ovaries removed
Though you may not be able to change such risk factors, you can many steps to lower your chances of developing osteoporosis, including
- Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. (Try yogurt with a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice for breakfast. Choose dark green, leafy vegetables to have with dinner.) The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is between 400 and 800 international units. How much calcium you need depends on your age:
- For girls ages 9 to 18: 1,300 mg a day
- For women ages 19 to 50: 1,000 mg a day
- For women 51 and older: 1,200 to 1,500 mg a day
- Get regular exercise
- Eliminate smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Get regular check-ups and have a bone density test if you are at risk.
Diagnosis with DEXAscan Technology
Although bone loss is a natural part of aging, you can take steps to ensure that bones remain healthy and strong. Unlike the past, you don't have to wait until you suffer a debilitating fracture before identifying and treating the problem. Now, there's a quick, noninvasive procedure to measure bone density and detect bone loss early.
To evaluate the bone health of patients, our rheumatologists perform bone densitometry with an advanced technology called DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry). This painless machine safely, accurately and painlessly measures bone density and the mineral content of bone, while the patient lies still on a padded table for about 20 minutes. The results of the test are used to determine if you need medication to maintain bone mass and reduce bone loss and fracture risk. With this technology, our doctors can recognize even the earliest signs of bone loss or osteoporosis.
We recommend a combination of vitamin supplements and careful monitoring to manage the vitamin D deficiency that causes osteomalacia. Vitamin supplements include calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus. We also monitor the levels of phosphorus and calcium in your blood through regular blood work.
We recommend a combination of nutritional changes and increased calcium to treat rickets—a softening and weakening of the bones—and prevent it from returning.
Rickets symptoms generally disappear once we replace the calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D that you are missing. Our specialists will work with you and a nutritionist to make sure you eat foods rich in vitamin D.