Osteoporosis: A Silent Disease
Osteoporosis is a disease that can cause bone fractures due to brittle or weak bones. As opposed to osteoarthritis where there can be too much bone, patients with osteoporosis have too little bone. It is considered a "silent disease" because you cannot feel your bones becoming weak. As a result, it is important to find out how your bones are doing before you have a fracture. Bone density measurement is a non-invasive way to get this information. This 10 minute x-ray which uses minimal radiation can diagnose osteoporosis as well as its precursor, osteopenia. Patients at an increased risk for osteoporosis should ask their doctor about getting a bone density test.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
Risk factors include but are not limited to:(1)Small thin females - especially those who are post-menopausal
(2)Caucasian or Asian descent
(4)Family history of osteoporosis
(5)Low calcium diet
(6)Use of the following medications: steroids (e.g. prednisone), some anti-seizure drugs, excess thyroid hormone
(7)Low testosterone levels in men
(10)Malabsorption problems (e.g. celiac disease)
If you are found to have osteoporosis, treatment consists of:
Weight bearing exercise such as walking is also helpful.
Medications which are available to improve bone density or prevent further loss of bone include:
Answer provided by Scott J. Zashin, M.D., clinical assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Division of Rheumatology, in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Zashin is also an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and Plano. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology and a member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Zashin is author of Arthritis Without Pain - The Miracle Of Anti-TNF Blockers. The book is a must-have for anyone on one of the biologic drugs (Enbrel, Remicade, Humira) or considering the biologic drugs. Read our review of the book.