Answers to Common Osteoporosis Questions

Premier Physician Network’s doctors answer frequently asked questions about Osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis, and what does it do to a person’s body?

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones. The disease creates low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue.

Under a microscope, parts of healthy bones look like honeycomb, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). The bones of someone with osteoporosis, however, have holes and spaces in the honeycomb that are much bigger than in healthy bones.

Having weakened bones makes the body more susceptible to broken bones – especially the wrist, hip and spine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, according to the NOF. And, about 34 million more are at risk of getting it.

To learn more about osteoporosis and how it can affect you, talk with your doctor.

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How do other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, affect osteoporosis?

There is a link between osteoporosis and other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Rheumatoid arthritis can often be treated with medications that can trigger bone loss. The pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis often causes inactivity. Some medications and inactivity can lead to a faster onset of osteoporosis, according to the NIH.

Typically the bone loss in someone with rheumatoid arthritis is most apparent in the areas near the affected joints, according to the NIH.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions can affect osteoporosis.

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What are some warning signs of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because there are no warning signs, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Without testing first, some people do not know they have osteoporosis until they have a serious bump or a fall that causes a bone break or fracture, according to the NIH.

A screening test for osteoporosis should be done for:

  • Postmenopausal women under 65 with one or more risk factor
  • All women 65 and older
  • Postmenopausal women with fractures
  • Women considering treatment for osteoporosis
  • Women who have been on hormone therapy for a long time
  • Men and women taking medications with side effects that could cause osteoporosis

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:

  • Family history
  • Not exercising
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in excess
  • Taking steroid medicines
  • Low testosterone levels

Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about how to know if you have osteoporosis.

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Does osteoporosis affect men?

Women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men, but men can get osteoporosis also.

It is estimated that up to one in four men older than 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

Some risk factors of osteoporosis that apply to both men and women include family history, not exercising, smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, taking steroid medicines and low testosterone levels, according to the NOF.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you are 50 or older and have a broken bone, it is important to talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test to find out if you might have osteoporosis.

Talk to your doctor also to get more information about the possibility of men developing osteoporosis.

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What are some steps patients can take to help prevent or defer the onset of osteoporosis?

There are a variety of steps you can take to help prevent osteoporosis.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), those steps include:

  • Avoid alcohol in excess
  • Avoid smoking
  • Be physically active
  • Avoid, if possible, medications that cause bone loss
  • Meet your daily calcium and vitamin D needs for your age
  • Eat a healthy diet

Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are important parts of bone loss and the onset of osteoporosis.

Talk to your doctor about more steps you can take to help prevent or defer osteoporosis, and discuss the medications you are taking to see if they cause bone loss.

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Thanks to Premier Physician Network doctors for answering these common questions about osteoporosis:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your doctor. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a doctor.