Osteoporosis is a growing healthcare crisis affecting millions of women and men worldwide. Over 77% of American women with osteoporosis are undiagnosed and therefore untreated. Most people do not know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone, such as your hip, wrist, or spine. The sooner a healthcare provider diagnoses osteoporosis, the less likely you are to experience bone fractures. Fortunately, osteoporosis is detectable and treatable and testing is safe and non-invasive.
Alison Redding, MD, Internist at South Central Internal Medicine, explains osteoporosis. “Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder that is characterized by loss of bone density and increases your risk of developing a fracture. Because women are at the highest risk, we begin screening all women at age 65. Those who have low estrogen, who are postmenopausal, and even men who have low testosterone are at risk for developing osteoporosis. We have also found that people who smoke, take certain medications for an extended period of time, low calcium intake, and do little exercise, are more prone to develop this disease.”
The unique thing about osteoporosis is that it does not have symptoms the way lots of other health conditions do. Healthcare providers often call it a silent disease.
Dr. Redding states, “The most common signal to a person is suddenly breaking a bone, especially after a small fall or minor accident that usually would not cause a fracture. Individuals may notice a few changes in their body that can mean their bones are losing strength or density.”
The warning signs of osteoporosis can include: losing an inch or more in height, changes in natural posture, shortness of breath, and lower back pain. These signs can indicate that you should visit a healthcare provider for a bone density test.
A bone density test is an imaging test that measures the strength of your bones. It uses X-rays to measure how much calcium and other minerals are in your bones. South Central Regional Medical Center offers the Horizon DXA system from Hologic. This imaging technology provides advanced diagnostic tools to support early detection and treatment of the disease.
“Once we have a diagnosis of osteoporosis, we want to make sure you receive enough calcium and vitamin D,” said Dr. Redding. “This can be through diet or over the counter supplementations. We also put emphasis on weight bearing exercises. Adding running, brisk walking, or muscle strengthening can build muscles around your joints to help protect your bones.”
After making lifestyle modifications, the most common treatment is through medications. Dr. Redding states, “We can offer antiresorptive medications to increase bone strength in individuals. Anabolic agents can stimulate bone formation and aide in the treatment of osteoporosis. There are many options available now to help treat this disease and maintain quality of life.”
“If you are having pains in any of your bones, let your healthcare provider know,” said Dr. Redding. “It may be a fracture that you have not found. Again, it is recommended for all individuals, ages 65 and older, to have a bone density test. There are also other medical conditions that qualify people for a bone density exam. The best way to determine this is by talking with your healthcare provider.”
Dr. Redding is an internist at South Central Internal Medicine who provides comprehensive medical treatment for adults. Along with treatment for osteoporosis, the staff provides wellness prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic care patients. South Central Internal Medicine is accepting new patients. Medicare, Medicaid, and most commercial insurance plans are accepted. South Central Internal Medicine is located inside of South Central Clinics at 1203 Jefferson Street in Laurel, directly across from SCRMC. For an appointment, call 601-649-2863.
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