Submitted by Elizabeth Madlem, APN, The Bone Health Clinic at Millennium Pain Center
It’s important to be proactive about your own health. This includes being informed by getting health information from reliable sources and asking your healthcare provider thoughtful questions that relate to your specific situation. The best way to stay healthy is to prevent problems from developing in the first place. Furthermore, prevention of disease could save you thousands of dollars in healthcare costs. However, many diseases and conditions are the result of poor choices that accumulate over the course of many years.
Osteoporosis is one such disease that is almost completely preventable, but yet is estimated to affect half of all Americans over age 50 and is considered to be a global public health problem. It is a disease that thins and weakens the bones to the point that they become fragile and break easily. While it isn’t usually diagnosed until people are older, it is often called a “silent disease” because it slowly progresses without any symptoms until a fracture occurs or one or more vertebrae collapse. This progression is often the result of lifestyle choices, such as poor nutrition and inadequate exercise, that began decades earlier.
Talk to your doctor about your bone health. Together, you can evaluate your risks for developing the disease. Some things to discuss include your current health, your diet and physical activity levels, and your family background. Your doctor can look at your age, weight, height, and medical history to determine if a bone density test is warranted. If you’ve broken a bone in the past, be sure your doctor knows. Your doctor might recommend a blood test to check for a vitamin D deficiency or abnormal calcium levels.
If your doctor finds that your bones are becoming weaker, there are things you can do to make them stronger. You can be more physically active, change your diet, and take calcium and vitamin D supplements. If your bones are already weak, there are medicines that can stop bone loss. They can even build new bone and make it less likely that you will suffer a broken bone. Lifestyle changes to prevent and treat weak bones will improve your overall health as well.
A fracture liaison service, such as the Bone Health Clinic at Millennium Pain Center, can be instrumental in helping people deal with osteoporosis. The Clinic works with your primary care physician to make sure you are getting your bone health covered and to minimize the chance of fracture. Osteoporosis is not a normal part of aging, but preventing it is a lifelong endeavor.
For more information on osteoporosis, contact The Bone Health Clinic at Millennium Pain Center, 309-662-4321. They are located at 2406 East Empire St. in Bloomington, next to Orthopedic & Sports Enhancement Center. Elizabeth Madlem is a certified bone health consultant. The clinic provides screening, diagnosis, and a comprehensive treatment plan for people who have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
If you have anyf of these “red flags,” you could be at high risk or weak bones.
Use this checklist to start the discussion with your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional.
_____ Ask to check your risk for bone disease.
_____ Discuss your need for a bone density test.
_____ Tell your provider about any broken bones you’ve had.
_____ Talk about any fall, even ones in which you were not hurt.
_____ If you have fallen, ask about the need for a full evaluation.
Tests include vision, balance, walking, muscle strength, heart function, and blood pressure.
_____ Go over all the medications you are taking (including over-the-counter ones). Do this at least once a year. This helps avoid dangerous drug interactions and taking higher doses of drugs than you need, which can lead to falls.
_____ Ask to have your calcium and vitamin D levels checked. These levels are not always part of a routine blood test.
Red flags for weak bones. Check any of these that apply to you.
_____ I’m older than 65.
_____ I’ve broken a bone not related to a trauma at any age.
_____ My close relative has osteoporosis or has broken a bone.
_____ My health is “fair” or “poor.”
_____ I smoke.
_____ I am underweight for my height.
_____ I started menopause before age 45.
_____ I’ve never gotten enough calcium.
_____ I have more than two drinks of alcohol several times a week.
_____ I have poor vision, even with glasses.
_____ I sometimes fall.
_____ I’m not active.
_____ I have one of these medical conditions:
_____ Chronic lung disease
_____ Inflammatory bowel disease
_____ Chronic hepatic or renal disease
_____ Vitamin D deficiency
_____ Cushing’s disease
_____ Multiple sclerosis
_____ Rheumatoid arthritis
_____ I take one of these medicines:
_____ Oral glucocorticoids (steroids)
_____ Cancer treatments (radiation, chemotherapy)
_____ Thyroid medicine
_____ Antiepileptic medications
_____ Gonadal hormone suppression
_____ Immunosuppressive agents