Osteoporosis is a silent disease-until it causes what can often be a life-altering bone fracture, usually following very minimal trauma. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that approximately one in two women and one in four men will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture, commonly known as a ‘fragility fracture,’ in their lifetime.
Treatment Compliance is Essential
“Osteoporosis literally means, ‘porous bone,’” explained board certified Endocrinologist and osteoporosis expert, Vasti Broadstone, MD. “Imagine that under a microscope, bone mass looks like a honeycomb. Osteoporotic bones have bigger holes and spaces in the honeycomb than healthy bones do, meaning that the bone has lost density or mass, becoming weak and more prone to fracture or breakage.”
“As an orthopedic surgeon, I see many elderly patients who suffer fractures, caused by minor incidents such as falling out of a chair. Healthy bones can normally withstand far more than this, so once I correct the fracture, my attention immediately shifts to diagnosing the underlying issue and preventing additional problems in the future.”
“Diagnosing osteoporosis as soon as possible is key to successful treatment. Too many people have low bone density and are unaware of it. The sooner we can establish a baseline of bone health, the sooner we can begin treatment and follow progress.”
“Many people don’t take their bone health seriously until it’s too late. Fragility fractures put an enormous burden on aging individuals and their loved ones. Studies show that only 40 percent of hip fracture patients regain full pre-fracture levels of mobility and independence, and a staggering 20 percent require long-term nursing home care. Early intervention before fractures occur really is essential.”
“The good news is that osteoporosis is relatively simple to prevent, and highly treatable once developed,” added board certified Family Medicine Physician Casey Bittenbender, MD. “There are many different medications, supplements and treatment regimens that we can utilize, but patients tend to struggle with compliance.”
Dr. Bittenbender continued, “Dosing is a common issue. The body can only absorb so much of a medication or supplement at one time, and many patients need to take supplements such as calcium and vitamin D twice daily in order to get the recommended amount for osteoporosis prevention. These are notoriously hard to tolerate though, so many patients simply don’t comply and unknowingly put their bone health at risk. The key is to work with your physician to get the right mix of medication and supplements for your body. Osteoporosis treatments are very effective, but they only work if used properly.”
Board certified Orthopedic Surgeon Ganesh Ramachandran, DO, MPH, has joined forces with Floyd Memorial’s clinical pharmacists to develop a bone health initiative aimed at diagnosing osteoporosis and ensuring treatment after a fragility fracture.
He explained, “We have developed a protocol that we’re confident will help reduce our patients’ risk of future fractures. When I see someone who I suspect may have suffered a fragility fracture due to osteoporosis or one of its secondary causes, such as long-term steroid use, thyroid conditions or bone cancer, I will treat the fracture, and then order a Central DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan and blood work study on the patient. DEXA scans measure bone density, while blood work can reveal the possible presence of cancer, or low levels of essential minerals such as calcium or vitamin D. Once we have the results back, we’ll send them to the patient’s primary care physician so that they can initiate preventive treatment as soon as possible.”
Monday, March 28, 6 -7 pm
Orthopedic Surgeon Ganesh Ramachandran, DO, MPH, and Floyd Memorial Clinical Pharmacists Lindsay Adams, PharmD, and Beth Zehr, PharmD, will offer a free seminar about risk factors for osteoporosis, treatment options, fall prevention and tips for maintaining good bone health throughout all stages of life. Call 1-800-4-SOURCE or register online for this free seminar.
Free Osteoporosis Screenings in March and April
Floyd Memorial offers simple bone density screenings of the heel known as pDXA*, with no physician referral required. The screening is normally $20, but is being offered for FREE during the months of March and April. For an appointment, call (812) 949-5570. Slots are limited, so register early.
*The pDXA screening is for patients interested in knowing their osteoporosis risk, and is not a diagnostic tool. Patients determined to be at high risk will most likely require a Central DEXA scan ordered by their physician for an affirmative diagnosis.