Osteoporosis and Osteopenia

Osteoporosis & Osteopenia are serious and growing life threatening health risks!

Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds!

21% of people over 65 who have a hip fracture, and have it surgically repaired, die within one year!  The number goes up to 70% if a person does not have surgery to repair the hip.  And the mortality (death) rate is higher for men than women.

A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined. And a man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.

What is Osteopenia and Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis and osteopenia are health conditions marked by decreased bone mass and Continuum of Osteoporosis
microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue resulting in less bone tension and strength
and increased risk of fragility fracture. They are on a continuum.

Bone geometry, microarchitecture, and size are the factors influencing the ability of bone
to withstand trauma. 75%–90% of variance in bone strength is related to bone mineral
density (BMD). Bone strength is determined by the integration of bone density and bone quality.

What kind of fractures does osteoporosis and osteopenia contribute to?

Because Osteoporosis and Osteopenia are systemic, all bones are affected.  But the major fractures of concern are vertebral fractures (spine), wrist fractures, and hip fractures because they can cause more long-term health consequences.

Hip fracture is one of the seriously occurring osteoporotic fractures resulting in disability, diminished quality of life, and a higher rate of mortality. 21% of people over 65 who have a hip fracture, and have it surgically repaired, die within one year!  The number goes up to 70% if a person does not have surgery to repair the hip.  And the mortality (death) rate is higher for men than women.

So, it is important to PREVENT fractures as much as possible.

Who should be concerned and who should get screened?

Everyone should be aware of their risk factors for osteoporosis and osteopenia since it is such a common disease and can cause such significant debility, decrease quality of life, and even contribute to a shortened life span.

I believe everyone should be screened for osteoporosis/osteopenia at around age 40 or earlier if there are high-risk concerns.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

  1. Nutritional deficiencies, either from deficient diet, malabsorption or lack of physical activity
  2. Increased fall risk because of medications or other health conditions or environment
  3. Weight loss or lifetime of being thin or under 130 pounds
  4. Cigarette smoking
  5. Alcohol consumption
  6. Air pollution
  7. Stress and sleep deficiency
  1. History of falls
  2. Older age
  3. Gender- both men and women are at risk
  4. White ethnic background- although other ethnicities can also be effected
  5. Prior fracture
  6. Family history of osteoporosis/osteopenia
  1. Chronic use of certain medications (prolonged corticosteroid use, and so on)
  2. Hypogonadism
  3. Hyperparathyroidism
  4. Chronic liver disease
  5. Inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, and others)
  6. Vitamin D deficiency
  7. Renal disease (history of kidney stones)
  8. Cardiovascular disease
  9. Diabetes mellitus
  10. Dementia
  11. History of Malaria
  12. Malabsorption of nutrients secondary to Gastrointestinal disease or gastric bypass surgeries.

What is Dr. Lara Litov’s approach to managing and treating osteoporosis and osteopenia?

Dr. Lara Litov’s main goal for osteoporosis and osteopenia is to decrease risk and incidence of bone fracture.  The danger is not thin bones in and of itself, but the potential consequence of those bones being easier to fracture.  So, the focus is to strengthen bones, increase bone density, and decrease the risk of falling.

With that in mind, the following is how I address it:

  • First – do a full evaluation of the whole person to help identify the underlying causes of why there is low bone density, with or without fractures.
  • It is key to determine the root of the bone loss in order to effectively impact positive change. Once we can determine modifiable risk factors, we can more effectively treat them.
  • Discussion of conventional medications’ pros and cons.  And natural treatments and the published research of the pros and cons.
  • Come up with an individualized plan and monitor on a regular basis.
  • The goal is to decrease the risk and number of fractures by a multi-pronged approach. Increase bone strength by supplying the nutritional building materials needed to build the matrix of strong bones, to increase bone density, to address the underlying health concerns that may be contributing to decreased bone density, and to decrease the risk of falling.
  • Discussion of decreasing risk of falling, which is a risk for fracture. So, looking at medications and activities and living situations and making adjustments and referrals (i.e. for PT and exercise) as needed to decrease the risk of falling and therefore decrease risk of fracture.
  • DEXA scans of the hip and lumbar spine is important as a baseline and yearly while undergoing treatment.

THAT is the work I will partner with you to do.