Healthy Bones = Healthy Life
April 02, 2018
Submitted by Elizabeth Madlem, APN, The Bone Health Clinic at Millennium Pain Center
You’ve probably heard of osteoporosis, but you may think that it’s a disease you don’t need to be concerned about. After all, you feel fine, it only affects the elderly, it’s not that common, and it’s not that serious — right? Wrong!
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones to the point that they become fragile and can break easily — even as a result of a minor bump or fall. It is considered to be a global public health problem that is estimated to affect over half of all Americans over age 50. This number will increase as the population ages. While osteoporosis does not directly cause death, a fracture or collapsed vertebrae often leads to a downward spiral in physical and mental health that ultimately results in death.
Here's what everyone needs to know: osteoporosis is called the “silent disease” because bone loss occurs gradually without any symptoms. It would be natural to think that if your bones were getting weaker, you’d somehow know this was happening. but the first symptom is often a fracture — and even then, the connection between a fracture and osteoporosis is sometimes missed. You can find out whether you have osteoporosis or if you should be concerned about your bones by getting a bone density test. This test is safe, simple, painless, and is the only way to find out if you have osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that you have a bone density test if you meet any of the following qualifiers:
- You are a woman age 65 or older
- You are a man age 70 or older
- You break a bone after age 50
- You are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
- You are a man age 50 to 69 with risk factors
Many younger women are also showing signs of osteoporosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, or osteopenia, which is lower-than-normal bone density, treatment focuses on slowing down or stopping further bone loss.
There are a variety of medical specialists that treat people with osteoporosis, including internists, gynecologists, and family doctors. Unlike many other diseases, there is not one type of doctor that specializes in treating osteoporosis. It’s not as simple as just taking a pill because the consequences of not treating the disease are serious, and treatment involves self-discipline and commitment on the part of the patient. People can benefit from the services of a bone health specialist. A specialist will work together with a patient’s physicians and surgeons to make sure their bone health is covered.
A bone health specialist can help make sure that patients do not suffer another fracture and prevent them from hurting and needing more chronic pain medications because fractures haven't been dealt with. By working together with a patient’s primary care physician, they can develop a comprehensive, personalized plan to coordinate, manage, prevent, and treat osteoporosis, with the overarching goal of avoiding a broken bone or collapsed vertebrae. A bone health specialist can help you be actively engaged in your treatment and provide education on fall prevention, nutrition, supplements like calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and other lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking.
Preventing osteoporosis is a lifelong endeavor. It’s never too late to start.
For more information on osteoporosis, you may contact The Bone Health Clinic at Millennium Pain Center, 309-662-4321. They have a new location at 2406 East Empire St. in Bloomington, next to Orthopedic & Sports Enhancement Center. Elizabeth Madlem is a certified bone health specialist. The clinic provides screening, diagnosis, and a comprehensive treatment plan for people who have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
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