About 13 to 18% of U.S. women age 50 years or older have osteoporosis, while another 37 to 50% have low bone mass (osteopenia). Although hip fracture has been emphasized as a source of disability and even death, spine fractures can account for problems with pain, changes in appearance and loss of independence. It can even have an effect on cardiovascular, lung and digestive function.
The good news is major complications from osteoporosis are largely preventable. Appropriate screening and pharmacologic interventions are now available to treat osteoporosis. Initial screening, which is available in our office, often provides information that leads to treatment. The most common method for screening is the DEXA dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, the technical standard for measuring bone mineral density. It is relatively inexpensive and has a very modest radiation exposure.
Osteoporosis screening is recommended for all postmenopausal women ages 65 or older. It is also recommended in postmenopausal women younger than 65 who have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis.
Risk factors for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women include:
- History of previous fracture
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Caucasian race
- Poor nutrition
- Low weight and body mass index
- Estrogen deficiency
- Long-term low calcium intake
- Chronic steroid use
- Use of certain antidepressants
- Inadequate physical activity
Women First is pleased to be able to offer osteoporosis screening and counseling regarding therapies for osteoporosis in our office.