Many people think of osteoporosis strictly as an older woman’s disease, but this isn’t the case. Although one of two women over 50 will suffer a broken bone due to the condition, so will one out of four men in the same age range.
Here’s another startling statistic: 10 million Americans currently have osteoporosis, while another 44 million are at risk due to low bone density.
As an internal medicine specialist, Dr. Gurprit Sekhon not only keeps up with the latest information on osteoporosis in medical literature, she screens patients for the condition and treats those who have been diagnosed.
The Nu Wave Medical Center team is dedicated not only to diagnosing and treating osteoporosis, but we’re also committed to managing your condition over the long-term so you can enjoy the best outcome possible.
The conundrum of osteoporosis
Younger people make bone faster than they use it, but as you age, that process reverses.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease because many sufferers don’t know they have it until they break a bone unexpectedly. Bone loss progresses, often without your knowledge if you’re not getting regular screenings, which puts you at risk for sustaining a fragility fracture due to a minor bump — or even no noticeable injury at all.
Things get serious though, when you experience something more severe, like a hip fracture, which is guaranteed to limit your mobility severely and hurt your quality of life.
Are there any visible symptoms of osteoporosis, and who’s at risk?
There are a few signs that osteoporosis affects someone that you can see and feel: a stooped posture accompanied by a pronounced hump on the upper back, back pain, and height reduction (people really do shrink!).
There are risk factors that you can and can’t control when it comes to osteoporosis. Those most at risk include:
- People over 50
- Individuals whose frames are slight
- Caucasian and Asian people
- Sufferers of certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- People with a parent who fractured their hip at any time
Though you can’t help these factors, there are other modifiable ones that you do have control over. Dr. Sekhon sees patient education as a significant part of her care, and she’ll share lifestyle practices you can adopt or avoid in order to lower your chances of having osteoporosis.
In order to maintain healthy, strong bones, it’s important to get sufficient calcium and Vitamin D. Though Vitamin D is present in foods like fatty fish and mushrooms, its primary source is the sun.
In the winter it’s particularly hard to get enough Vitamin D, just as it’s a challenge to get the recommended amount of calcium each day through food. Supplements can help make up these deficits.
We know that getting physical activity is good for your heart, your joints, and your mood. It’s also good for your bones, especially weight-bearing exercises like walking and dancing, as well as resistance training.
If you smoke, here’s another reason to stop, because the habit is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis. The same is true for excessive alcohol use.
Finally, it’s wise to talk to Dr. Sekhon about how any medications you take might impact your bone health. We know that antiinflammatory and certain other drugs are linked to bone loss.
What can my doctor and I do to prevent or treat osteoporosis?
Fortunately, Dr. Sekhon views her relationship with you as a partnership, so she works with you to test you for osteoporosis or treat if you’re diagnosed. She determines whether you have the condition by performing a bone mineral density test, which not only reveals your bone density, it helps to calculate your fracture risk.
It’s standard practice for Dr. Sekhon to take a detailed personal and family medical history from you. If she diagnoses you with osteoporosis, she creates a completely customized treatment plan for you that may include recommendations on lifestyle and diet to lower your risk and she may prescribe bone-restoring medications.
Routine management is key for effective osteoporosis treatment
Since osteoporosis is so easy to miss, it’s critical that you commit to visiting Dr. Sekhon annually for your physician to monitor your risk. If you’ve been diagnosed, we recommend you see her more frequently for close monitoring.
As a reminder, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so it’s important that just like osteoporosis, you get screened often. We encourage you to schedule a mammogram as soon as possible and complete monthly self-breast examinations. We’re also entering flu and pneumonia season, so make sure you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Sekhon today to discuss your osteoporosis risk or get tested or treated for it. Reach out to us by phone or via our website.
We’re also offering virtual appointments to our patients, so if that’s your preference and what needs to happen at your appointment can be accommodated by one, we’ll be happy to schedule it.