OSTEOPOROSIS: A BRITTLE REALITY
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease of bone loss that afflicts 28 million
Americans. When bones lose their density, they become more porous and
susceptible to fracture. It is estimated that 1.5 million bone fractures
occur each year. Why is this alarming? Only 25 percent of hip fracture
patients will make a full recovery. Forty percent will require nursing
home care, and 50 percent will need a cane or walker. Nearly one-in-four
hip fracture patients will die within 12 months after the injury due to
complications associated with the injury and recovery.
Age is a major risk factor for osteoporosis because after 35, the body
builds less new bone. Preventive measures are key to avoiding osteoporosis.
An adequate calcium intake and a lifetime of weight-bearing exercise can
help prevent loss of bone mass. But what can be done for an advanced case
At Newport Orthopedic Institute, we treat fractures associated with the
disease every day. Although it more common in women, osteoporosis will
lead to bone fractures in one in five men over age 65. For women over
65, the incidence of bone fractures is one in two. That is why we recommend
that women have a baseline dexascan performed after age 50.
When I see a patient with osteoporosis, I usually recommend aggressive
treatment with diet, exercise, and calcium supplementation. Drugs such
as Actonel, Fosamax or Boniva can increase bone mineral density and decrease
fracture rates by 50 percent per year . One drug, Forteo, is a synthetic
hormone that can actually build bone mass , but requires daily injections
for up to a year at a time.
When osteoporosis has led to collapse of the vertebrae, a minimally invasive
procedure called kyphoplasty can help bring relief. Kyphoplasty uses a
balloon and bone cement to restore the vertebral body height and shape,
and strengthen the spine. The procedure may be performed under sedation
using either local or general anesthetic, and generally helps alleviate
the discomfort of painful vertebral fractures